The scare of novel coronavirus has taken the Kartarpur Sahib pilgrimage in its grip too as the Indian government has decided to shut the corridor from Sunday midnight in view of the spread of deadly virus.
Earlier, the movement of people and commodities from Pakistan at the joint check post at Attari near Amritsar was suspended by the Indian government as a precautionary measure.
“In the wake of COVID19 India outbreak, as a precautionary measure to contain and control spread of the disease, the travel and registration for Sri Kartarpur Sahib is temporarily suspended from 0000hrs, March 16, 2020, till further orders,” spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
Two days back, Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, had urged the government of India not to put restrictions on the travel of pilgrims to the holy Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.
“Unless the government (of India) is going to impose a travel ban on all international pilgrimages, it should not impose any ban on the devotees visiting the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to pay obeisance as it is a matter of faith for the Sikhs,” Akal Takht chief Giani Harpreet Singh told the media in Amritsar.
Officials told IANS since the scare of coronavirus, the number of devotees visiting daily to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara has drastically reduced.
Kartarpur corridor, a signature venture between India and Pakistan, came after many negotiations between the both sides. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan after coming to power in 2018 had promised to work in the direction to launch the corridor for the ease of prayer for the Sikh community.
The 4.2 km long corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab (India) to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Shakargarh tehsil in Narowal district of Pakistan.
India and Pakistan had signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor in October last year, providing visa-free entry to Indian pilgrims to visit the holy gurdwara.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first lot of pilgrims on November 9 last year.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, which falls in Pakistan by 4km, is considered a holy site for the Sikhs community, as they believe that the Gurdwara is built on site where the Guru Nanak died in the 16th century.