The foundation stone for a unique “faith-corridor” was unveiled by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 26. This corridor is a visa-free six-kilometre route between Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab and Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab, as reported by The Hindu.
India’s Union Cabinet took the decision to build the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to International border on November 22. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan has decided to open its side of the corridor.
The foundation stone for the Pakistani side of the corridor will be laid by Pakistan PM Imran Khan along with two Indian ministers on November 28. This gesture from both the countries is being termed as a big diplomatic breakthrough.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara is a revered pilgrimage site for Sikhs from all around the world. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years at the bank of river Ravi, where the Gurudwara now stands. If all goes well, Sikh pilgrims from India will have easier access to Kartarpur Gurudwara from November 2019 through this corridor which marks the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The proposal for such corridor was made first by our former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his 1999 Lahore visit. The request for the corridor has been raised time and again by leaders of Sikh community. As of now, Indian devotees have Darshan of the shrine, which is visible from the Indian side through binoculars installed at the Gurudwara Dera Baba Nanak at Gurdaspur District of Punjab, India. Pakistani authorities trim the elephant grass during the festival that would otherwise obstruct the view of the Gurudwara.
It may be noted that in September, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu courted major controversy when he hugged Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa. Sidhu in his defense said that he did so because Bajwa told him about starting the Kartarpur corridor.
With a special corridor to connect to the Kartarpur Gurudwara, hopes have been rekindled that similar faith corridors will be made to connect Temples and Mosques across the border.
According to The Indian Express, pilgrimages between India and Pakistan are governed by the Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974 protocol. This protocol lists the number of shrines open for devotees from either side of the border.
3,000 Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan for Guru Nanak Jayanti
On November 21, thousands of Sikh pilgrims arrived in Lahore of Pakistan, ahead of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The devotees were welcomed by Minorities Senator Anwar Lal, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman Tahir Ehsan and secretary Tariq Wazir, and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Tara Singh.
Videos surfaced on social media showed “Yatris” receiving a cordial welcome at Nankana Sahib in Punjab province of Pakistan where Gurudwara Janam Asthan is located.
Also Read: Pakistani Female Commando Guarding Indian Sikhs As They Arrive in Pakistan For Religious Tour