Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

PM Modi to inaugurate Kartarpur checkpost shortly, security beefed up across Punjab

FO Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal says govt was working on other initiatives for promoting religious tourism. — DawnNewsTV  File FO Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal says govt was working on other initiatives for promoting religious tourism. — DawnNewsTV File
Deanna Wagner | 09 November, 2019, 16:39

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the "historic" opening of the Kartarpur Corridor said, "It is a corridor for the nation".

When Pakistan was carved out of colonial India at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, Kartarpur ended up on the western side of the border, while most of the region's Sikhs remained on the other side.

The first batch comprising 500 pilgrims will include several dignitaries including former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Amarinder Singh and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

"Sikhs / Nanak Naamlevas, Hindus and Buddhist Monks have various holy sites in Pakistan and we are trying to tap this potential of religious tourism", he said. The pilgrims, also known as yatris, will be able to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur without a visa.

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Pilgrims could be seen on both sides of the border early Saturday readying for the corridor's inauguration, with those already at the shrine washing their feet and queuing to enter as workers laid out dozens of coloured cushions, bright against the white of building.

Bollywood actor-politician Sunny Deol will be part of the inaugural procession visiting Pakistan to attend the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, the Punjab Chief Minister's office was quoted as saying by news agency ANI, according to NDTV. It is supposed to have adequate immigration and customs clearance facilities to process the smooth movement of approximately 5,000 pilgrims per day.

The spokesman's reaction came after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the visit by Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur Gurdwara via the newly established corridor would be conducted in accordance with the agreed bilateral agreement governing the corridor's operations. Each visitor would be required to pay Dollars 20 as fee, though India has requested Pakistan not to charge the Indian pilgrims. The travel will be visa-free and pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport.

Saturday's opening of the land corridor comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak's 550th birthday on November 12 - an anniversary of huge significance for the global Sikh community. "We have a memorandum of understanding (MoU), it hasn't been changed and as per it passport is needed".