In a major relief for the devotees, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced that Sikh pilgrims from India would not need a passport to travel to Kartarpur and no fee would be charged on the opening day of the corridor on November 9.
In a tweet, Khan said: “For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off two requirements: i) they won’t need a passport-just a valid ID; ii)they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee to be charged on day of inauguration and on Guruji’s 550th birthday (sic).”
For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they wont need a passport – just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on day of inauguration & on Guruji’s 550th birthday
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 1, 2019
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier in October requested Imran Khan to withdraw a proposed facilitation charge of $20 (Rs 1,422) for visitors to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.
“I appeal to Imran Khan to withdraw $20 fee imposed by Pakistan government on pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib to facilitate ‘khulle darshan deedar’ [free access] of the final resting place of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” the chief minister tweeted.
I appeal to @ImranKhanPTI to withdraw $20 fee imposed by @pid_gov on pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib to faciliate ‘khulle darshan deedar’ of the final resting place of SRI Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The world Sikh community will be grateful to you for this gesture.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) October 18, 2019
He further told Khan that the Sikh community would be grateful to him for the gesture.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just about four km from the international border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
On October 24, India and Pakistan signed a landmark agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
The agreement signing ceremony took place at the Kartarpur Zero Point at the International Border, removing a key legal hurdle for the opening of the corridor.
After the signing of the agreement, it was decided that Indian pilgrims of all faith and persons of Indian-origin can use the Kartarpur Corridor. The travel will be visa-free. The pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport, while persons of Indian-origin need to carry Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card along with the passport of their country.
The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.
Despite heightened tensions along the border, India had conveyed to Pakistan its readiness to sign the agreement on Kartarpur Saheb Corridor on 23 October even as it renewed its appeal to Islamabad not to insist on levying a service fee of $20 on every pilgrim visiting the gurdwara.
After the inauguration of much-awaited Kartarpur corridor on November 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public gathering at the Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
On November 22, last year, just a day before the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the Union Cabinet decided to build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the international border for Sikh pilgrims to visit Pakistan.