Kartarpur Corridor reopens first time post COVID
Kartarpur Corridor opens up today after 20-month long closure.
The Centre has decided to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor from Wednesday, Union home minister Amit Shah announced on Tuesday.
“This decision reflects the immense reverence of the Modi government towards Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji and our Sikh community. The nation is all set to celebrate the Prakash Utsav of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji on November 19, and I am sure PM Narendra Modi government’s decision to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will further boost the joy and happiness across the country,” the home minister tweeted on Tuesday.
The announcement to restart the pilgrimage came three days before the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on Friday.
The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.
The Kartarpur Corridor was closed temporarily on 16th March, 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the temporary closure lasted for 20 months as the COVID-19 pandemic got out of hand all around the world and India.
First Jatha post COVID
As many as 70 devotees were part of the first Jatha (a long march, usually by Sikhs aimed at spreading a message) that were gathered at the ICP (Integrated Check Post) to be part of the day long pilgrimage to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
According to the sources, the people who had registered themselves for the pilgrimage to the holy shrine in Pakistan before the closure were given a priority to be part of the first Jatha that will visit the shrine upon its reopening and were informed earlier.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi welcomed the Centre’s decision and said the state cabinet will be part of the “Jatha” that will visit the shrine in Pakistan on November 18.
Besides Channi, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, former CM Amarinder Singh, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal also hailed the Centre’s move.
The holy shrine of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib of Sikhs can be termed as a perfect image depicting the horrors of partition. The holy shrine in Sikhism was partitioned and divided to be a part of the Pakistan.
The damage done by the 4.7 KMs distance was something that was undone in 2019 finally when a consensus was reached between the neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan to build a visa free corridor for the devotees.
The proposal for the special corridor was first pitched back in 1999 by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
However, due to the hostile environment between the neighbours and the political situation of both the nations, this devision never came into being until 2019.
In November 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the dedicated corridor.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, the then Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union minister Hardeep Puri were part of the first group that visited the gurudwara in Pakistan in November 2019 through the corridor.
Advantages of the corridor
Sikh pilgrims from India earlier had to take a bus to Lahore to eventually get to Kartarpur, which made the journey almost 125km long.
Another way to catch a glimpse of the Holy shrine was to use binoculars from a makeshift darshan sthal (Viewpoint) set up on the Indian side of the international border. While many devotees could not make the pilgrimage, they had to suffice their eyes with the just the view of the holy shrine from a distance of almost 4.7 KMs.
What the Kartarpur Corridor has done is facilitation of this pilgrimage. The pilgrims have to pre-register themselves with the Indian Government to enjoy a visa-free visit to the holy shrine.
The trip now takes just one day and is made each year by thousands of Sikhs who had long been waiting to see the resting place of the founder of their religion, Guru Nanak.
As reported by HT in March 2020, over 59,000 pilgrims visited the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, since the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2019 until March 8 last year, according to data compiled at the integrated check post set up at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
Guru Nanak, born in 1469 to a Hindu family near the present-day Pakistani city of Lahore, is revered both by Sikhs and Hindus who prepare community feasts known as langars to mark his birth anniversary.