New Delhi: Registration of pilgrims for Kartarpur corridor, linking the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Dera Baba Nanak to the Kartarpur Sahib shrine in Pakistan, will begin on Sunday. Indian pilgrims will have to carry a passport, but no visa is required to visit the holy shrine.
The much-awaited Kartarpur corridor for the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib shrine in Pakistan is expected to be completed by the end of this month and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor.
Pilgrims from India wanting to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan can now opt for online registration, the journey of which will commence from Chandigarh, which is the capital of Punjab and Haryana.
Earlier on Saturday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi announced that the corridor will be inaugurated from Pakistan's side on November 9, a day after India's inauguration ceremony. He further said that former prime minister Manmohan Singh has responded to the invitation sent by Pakistan government requesting him to inaugurate the corridor. Qureshi added that Dr Singh will attend the inauguration ceremony as a "yatri" (as an ordinary man) and not as a guest.
Earlier, reports had suggested that former PM Singh had accepted Pakistan's invitation to inaugurate the corridor. However, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had refuted all such reports and ruled out a visit to Pakistan for the Kartarpur Corridor opening, making it clear that he would only be leading the first all-party 'Jatha' to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, via the corridor, to pay obeisance.
On October 14, Pakistan sent its own draft proposal on Kartarpur corridor mentioning that Indian pilgrims will have to pay USD 20 (approximately Rs 1,500) as fee for services to use the corridor. It is to be noted that India had voiced its concern over Pakistan's demand when the officials of the two sides met in early September.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has said that India urged Pakistan not to levy the $20 (approx Rs 1420) fee on pilgrims using the Kartarpur corridor. Kumar said, "After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we've reached an agreement on all issues, except service fee. Pakistan insists on levying a fee of USD 20 (approx. Rs. 1420) on all pilgrims." "We've urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees and also because this is an important people-to-people initiative taken by India to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji. We hope that the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event," he added.
The draft agreement sent by Pakistan also mentioned that the exchange of lists of yatris will be done at least 10 days prior to them crossing over to Pakistan through the corridor with Islamabad and then the vetting of names will be done at least four days prior to these yatris coming to Pakistan through the corridor.
In case of the agreement of the draft, both sides are expected to sign at a ceremony which could take place at the Wagah–Attari border or at the Zero Point of Dera Baba Nanak. New Delhi and Islamabad have held three rounds of formal talks on the Kartarpur corridor’s draft agreement while at least four times technical level experts have met to discuss the nitty-gritty of the project.
The Kartarpur corridor remained a long-standing demand of the Sikh community in India. Both Pakistan and the Indian side began working on their side for the Kartarpur corridor. The corridor will be visa-free for Indian pilgrims entering from India into Pakistan, first of its kind between the two countries.