Amid tensions involving Kashmir, India and Pakistan will throw open the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday, which will provide for Indian pilgrims to visit one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines in Pakistani town of Narowal without a visa.
The historic inauguration of the corridor comes in the midst of frayed ties between India and Pakistan following New Delhi’s decision in August to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the State into two Union Territories.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the corridor on the Pakistani side while his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will attend a similar event on the Indian side.
Here are the live updates:
PM Modi speaks at Dera Baba Nanak, thanks Imran Khan
Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for understanding Indian sentiments on Kartarpur.
Mr. Modi was speaking at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, Punjab. The integrated corridor will serve thousands, he said. He also praised Guru Nanak’s vision in his speech.
He also expressed his gratitude to the UNESCO. It has been decided to establish an inter-faith university in Amritsar, he said.
Efforts are on to make Sultanpur Lodhi a heritage town, he added. Establishment of heritage complexes, museums, auditoriums and many such works have either been completed or are going to be completed soon, he added.
The central government has taken another important decision, which has benefited many Sikh families settled around the world, Mr. Modi claimed.
“Let us take a pledge on this important and sacred stage that we will make Guru Nanak’s words a part of our lives. We will make every effort to create harmony within the society,” he said.
PM Modi meets NRI delegation to visit Kartarpur shrine
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently meeting an NRI delegation who will be crossing over to Pakistan to visit the Kartarpur shrine along with Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and others.
Mr. Modi will inaugurate the passenger terminal building and will flag off the first delegation to Pakistan . They will cross over on foot from Baba Dera Nanak check post in Gurdaspur district, Punjab.
PM pays obeisance at Ber Sahib Gurdwara in Punjab’s Sultanpur Lodhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, November 9, 2019, paid obeisance at historic Ber Sahib Gurdwara, before heading for Dera Baba Nanak where he will inaugurate the passenger terminal building of the Kartarpur Corridor.
At the Gurdwara here, Mr. Modi was received by former Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee chief Jagir Kaur, who is incharge of celebrations connected with 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev.
The Prime Minister was presented a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) by Kaur on behalf of the SGPC.
Mr. Modi spent nearly 20 minutes at the Gurdwara and listened to the kirtan.
Once forced to leave the country, Sikh man returns on red carpet laid by govt
Hardevender Singh (65) was 23 years old when he escaped India with the help of an agent. Sikh militancy was it’s peak in mid-1980s and following Operation Blue Star at Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple in Amritsar, hundreds of Sikh youths fled the country.
‘Sidhu-Imran friendship was the key in formation of Katarpur corridor’
The Nijjars, a doctor couple from Batala in Punjab cannot thank enough the friendship of two former cricketers — Sidhu and Imran — which according to them has made possible the opening of a corridor linking revered Sikh shrines in India and Pakistan.
Dr. S.S. Nijjar had come with his wife Dr. Satinder Nijjar to catch a glimpse of the facilities at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district. It is here that a grand passenger terminal building is coming up as part of the Kartarpur corridor, a project that has withstood animosity and tensions between the two nations.
Kartarpur: Entry fee waived on two days
India and Pakistan continued to spar over procedural issues, hours before the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor while Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in a last-minute gesture declared a waiver of entry fees for two days for the Indian pilgrims.
Speaking to a group of Indian media persons, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan explained that the $20 entry fees to be paid by every Indian pilgrim would be utilised in maintaining the infrastructure in and around the famed Gurdwara at Kartarpur.
“It’s a reasonable amount. This is not to generate a fund but to maintain the facility. There will be services provided and for that there will be some funds required,” Mr. Qureshi told reporters, while announcing that there will be no requirement for the entry fees on November 9 and 12. The festivities associated with the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak who founded the Sikh faith will begin on Saturday when Indian pilgrims from across the border will reach the shrine using the religious corridor.Mr. Qureshi told reporters that India revoking the special status of Kashmir on August 5 was unfortunate. He said that the initiative of the Kartarpur Corridor was taken because it generated much goodwill in the Sikh community.He referred to the decision as the “annexation of Kashmir”.
Kartarpur calling: Sikhs welcome chance to visit holy land
The Sikh community is elated with the opening of the Kartarpur corridor that will allow them to visit the Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district. The historic site is where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final years.
“There cannot be a bigger honour than getting a chance to visit the Darbar Sahib as a part of the first jatra,” said former director general of the police P.S. Pasricha, who started his journey from Mumbai on Friday. “It has been a dream destination for every Sikh. Unreachable to us for all these years, this access is extremely valuable,” he said. Nearly 350 people, including office-bearers of gurudwaras, associations and civil society members are a part of the first batch, he said.
Delhi govt. to lift odd-even for two days on Prakash Parv
The odd-even scheme will be suspended for two days next week — November 11 and 12 — so that members of the Sikh community are not inconvenienced during the Prakash Parv celebrations, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday.
He also announced the Delhi Cabinet’s in-principle decision to include Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib under the ongoing Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana which, he said, will enable Delhi’s senior citizens to visit the sacred site free of cost.
“The 550th Prakash Parv of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is being celebrated through a grand Nagar Kirtan on November 11 and Guru Parv on November 12. Lakhs of people are expected to join the celebrations. Several Sikh organisations came to me with a request to suspend the odd-even scheme for these two days and we have decided to do that,” Mr. Kejriwal announced.