Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) is all set to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor even as the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has said that it has no such plans as the visa free passage to the shrine on the other side of the border is closed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan on November 9 last year had inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor from either side of the border. The 9-km corridor, of which 4.7 km is in Pakistan, connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib — also called Kartarpur Sahib — the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, in Narowal district in the neighbouring country.
PSGPC president Satwant Singh said they will be holding bhog of Akhand Path at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib on Monday (November 9) to celebrate the opening of the visa-free corridor. “Provincial Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Pir Syed Saeed ul Hassan will be the the chief guest on the occasion. We wanted devotees from India to attend this historic day. But that won’t be possible as India has still not opened the corridor on its side.”
The corridor was closed by India on March 15 as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus pandemic. It was reopened briefly in June to commemorate Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary, with India rejecting Pakistan’s offer and refusing to open the corridor on its side.
On October 2, Pakistan government had announced the re-opening of the 4.7-kilometre-long passage on its side. However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) recently said that a decision to re-open the corridor will be taken as per the coronavirus protocol. “We are in touch with all the concerned authorities,” Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson, had said.
Satwant Singh said during the religious function they will the governments of India and Pakistan for turning the corridor into reality. “We will also thank all the departments that worked to open this corridor. We will also request Indian government to reopen the corridor to allow devotees to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib every day,” said Satwant Singh.
The PSGPC’s plan to organise the anniversary function comes days after Indian government and the SGPC accused Pakistan of taking control of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib away from the Sikh body.
“We are pained. A fake news that the control of Darbar Sahib has been taken away from the PSGPC was spread and then everybody reacted to that fake news without confirming it. At least SGPC should had cross-checked with the PSGPC. We had announced to observe the anniversary much before the spread of this fake news,” added Satwant Singh.
A controversy has erupted following a recent notification by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) of Pakistan per which a new body — Project Management Unit (PMU) Kartarpur Sahib — has been formed for the administrative control of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
Contacted, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said, “We have been demanding Indian government to reopen the corridor. How can we celebrate the anniversary if we can’t go to the other side of border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib via the corridor”.
On controversy over the control of the gurdwara, Longowal said, “If control had not been taken away, then Pakistan government must issue a clarification.”
Meanwhile, Dal Khalsa along with Akal Federation has announced to hold a meet at Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur border on November 9 to celebrate the anniversary.
Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh said their organization believes that Kartarpur Corridor was a landmark achievement for the Sikhs.
He termed government’s argument that it would reopen the corridor considering Covid-19 protocols as dilly-dallying tactics. “The government’s argument is nothing but a lame excuse, as firstly, Pakistan has less number of virus cases than India, and secondly, the entire country is buzzing with social, religious and political activities,” said Kanwar Pal.
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