In a landmark decision to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, the government on Thursday decided to build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the international border to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. Government of Pakistan will be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territories,” Home Minister Rajjnath Singh tweeted.
The corridor project, with all modern amenities and facilities, would be implemented with the central government funding, he said.
India has also approached the Pakistan government and urged it to recognise the sentiments of Sikh community by building a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory to facilitate easy and smooth visits of pilgrims from India to Kartarpur Sahib throughout the year.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that in keeping with the resolution of the Union Cabinet, New Delhi has approached Pakistan on Thursday.
In a letter to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the ministry noted that the proposal to create a corridor to facilitate easy and smooth access for Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib had been under discussion between the two sides.
While conveying India’s decision to build a corridor on India’s side of the border, New Delhi asked Pakistan to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh Community and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory for the international border to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib to facilitate easier access and smooth passage of Indian pilgrims throughout the year.
Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhary welcomed India’s decision to build the corridor.
“India Cabinet endorsement of Pakistan’s proposition on Kartarpur border opening is victors of peace lobby in both countries. It’s a step towards right direction and we hope such steps will encourage voice of reasons and tranquility on both sides of the border,” he said in a tweet.
A Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune, this morning reported that Pakistan has decided to begin building the Kartarpur corridor later this month with Prime Minister Imran Khan likely to lay the foundation stone of the project.
The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.
After his return, Sidhu claimed that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan might open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.