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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Kartarpur opens today: Unclear visit protocol may dampen spirit

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for re-opening the Kartarpur corridor ahead of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: November 17, 2021 10:02:24 am
Kartarpur, gurugranth sahib, amritsar, SGPC, punjab, punjab news, indian express, indian express news, Covid-19Officials of Border Security Force and Land Port Authority of India also held a meeting to discuss the arrangements ahead of the reopening. (File)

EVEN AS Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib is set to reopen on Wednesday, there is still no clarity on the protocol yet. While it is mandatory to register through the website to visit the gurudwara, it was not processing applications till the filing of this report.

Some ministers, government officials and members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) are planning to visit the gurudwara as part of special arrangements, however, it is yet to be finalised.

SGPC spokesman said, “We have asked our members to send their passports and some politicians may also be in the list. So far, the protocol is not clear, but the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) said that we should make the preparations for the special jatha.”

Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ishfaq said, “We are not sure about the number of devotees in the first jatha but it would be between 30 and 200. It depends on the list, which will be cleared by India first and then by Pakistan. We have already started the arrangements.”

Officials of Border Security Force and Land Port Authority of India also held a meeting to discuss the arrangements ahead of the reopening. Sources said that BSF and Paktistan rangers are also coordinating with each other. Apart from the existing protocol between India and Pakistan, Covid-19 guidelines will also have to be followed.

Addressing the gathering during a function to mark the death anniversary of former Punjab Minister and Congress stalwart Sardar Santokh Singh Randhawa in Dharowali in Gurdaspur district, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for re-opening the Kartarpur corridor ahead of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Channi said that he had “personally taken the issue of reopening of corridor with the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister”. He said that “this is a joyous occasion for entire Punjabi community in general and Sikh brethren in particular”.

He said, “Punjab government is on path of resurrection and revolutionary changes are being introduced to provide responsive, transparent and accountable administration in the state. Every effort is being made to ensure well being of people by framing pro-people and development oriented policies.” He added that “already several initiatives have been taken and other are in pipeline”.

As the corridor was closed, devotees were forced to pay obeisance to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib from zero line. Owing to fog, they were not able to see the building, which is located 5km inside the Pakistan border. The corridor was closed in March 2020, following the Covid outbreak, and the reopening is a relief for devotees who have a passport.

Meanwhile, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur announced that the organisation will celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev at Kartarpur Sahib on November 19. Kaur will lead a special jatha (group) to the gurudwara on the day. Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Kaur said, “The cost of the special SGPC jatha will be borne by them. The sangat should complete the process and inform the SGPC in this regard. Talks have been held with PSGPC President Ameer Singh and former president Bishan Singh and they have also expressed their happiness.”

Kaur said that the SGPC would also organise langar for Gurmat Samagam (religious congregation) on November 19 and other preachers would also join the jatha. She added that SGPC members have been informed about the jatha and the number of participants would be as per the guidelines issued by the government.

PSGPC President Ameer Singh, in a video statement, said, “Pakistan had opened the corridor in June this year and we are happy that India has also opened it. India should have opened it long ago.”

Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which looks after the holy places of minorities in Pakistan, also welcomed the decision of reopening the corridor. “We had been anticipating this decision long ago, but nonetheless it’s never too late and we welcome it,” ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi said.

Dal Khalsa has also welcomed the reopening of the corridor. “Dal Khalsa welcomes the decision of both the countries to make thecorridor operational,” said party spokesman Paramjit Singh Mand.

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