Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has welcomed the decision of the Union Home Ministry to fast track the development of Kartarpur Corridor, but has reiterated his demand for passport and visa free ‘khule darshan’ for pilgrims visiting the historic gurdwara across the International Border, a government statement said.
“Welcome decision of @HMOIndia to build #KartarpurCorridor on fast track basis to enable Sikh pilgrims to visit the historic Gurdwara in #Pakistan in time for 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I extend all support from my govt for the project,” the Chief Minister tweeted late last night.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, however, he made it clear that it was not enough to build the Corridor on fast track but the pilgrims also needed to be facilitated to have ‘khule darshan’ by waiving off the requirement of passport and visa to travel across the border.
The condition of passport and visa would prevent thousands of devotees without passports, particularly those living in the rural belt of Punjab, from fulfiling their aspiration to pay obeisance at the historic gurdwara associated with the life of the first Sikh Guru, pointed out the Chief Minister.
“The central government could easily provide access to the gurdwara to these devotees\ (non-passport holders) by waiving off the condition of passport and visa, and using other documents instead to verify the identity of the pilgrims,” he added.
The Kartarpur Corridor would provide an extremely limited window of travel, with restricted access, and would be a high-security route to the gurdwara, which made it easier for the government to waive off the condition of passport and visa, the Chief Minister said.
The first Sikh Guru preached universality, which could be realised if all his devotees are now allowed to pray at the gurdwara which remains integrally linked with his life, Amarinder added. “Let us not deprive the genuine devotees of access to the historic gurdwara only because they do not have passports,” he said, urging the central government to accept his request in this regard.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved a detailed plan for construction of a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building (PTB) complex at the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
The approval came following a Cabinet decision in November 2018 to develop the Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border.
The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), which is mandated to build and operate integrated check posts along the land borders of the country, has reportedly been entrusted with this work. It has been directed to complete the work on a fast-track basis, before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November.
The opening of a cross-border corridor had been a long-pending demand of Sikhs.
With PTI inputs