Kartarpur Corridor reopens, pilgrims long to visit historic shrine
Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab): Several pilgrims travelled through the Kartarpur Corridor on Wednesday and others made plans to offer prayers at the historic Sikh shrine in Pakistan as the route reopened after a 20-month gap.
Kanwaljeet Sodhi, a resident of Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, said, “There were no limits to our happiness when we came to know of the reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor and this joy cannot be described in words.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said on Tuesday that the government has decided to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Wednesday.
The Kartarpur Corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district.
Gurpurab, which marks the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, will be celebrated on November 19.
Pilgrimage to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara was suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.
The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) said the pilgrimage to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara commenced on Wednesday and added that it facilitated travel of pilgrims through the corridor.
“First two pilgrims given warm send-off at ICP gate by the Manager ICP. The pilgrimage to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib through Kartarpur Corridor formally commences today. Gurudwara Prabandhak Samiti welcomed them across the border. #KartarpurCorridor #DeraBabaNanak,” said the LPAI in a tweet while posting photographs of the pilgrims.
“Our team at PTB Dera Baba Nanak is warmly facilitating travel of pilgrims through Kartarpur Sahib corridor,” it further said in another tweet.
The LPAI develops, sanitises and manages the facilities for cross-border movement of passengers and goods at designated points along the international borders of India.
On Tuesday, LPAI chairman Aditya Misha held a meeting with all stakeholders at Integrated Check Post Dera Baba Nanak to take stock of the preparedness, ahead of the reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, along with his ministers, will be part of the first ‘jatha’ (group), which will visit the Kartarpur Sahib on Thursday, officials said.
The Gurdaspur district administration was busy in preparations for the visit of the first ‘jatha’ on Thursday, they said.
Devotees longing to offer prayers at the historic shrine are ecstatic over the Centre’s move to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor.
Sodhi, who is a teacher, said they have been waiting for this day for so long in order to pay obeisance at the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara.
Neetu Bedi, another resident of Dera Baba Nanak, said that in 2020, she had planned to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara but she could not go as the pilgrimage was suspended because of the Covid outbreak.
“This time, we will go and offer prayers at the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara,” she said.
Residents of Dera Baba Nanak also feel that with the reopening of the corridor, the trade, especially the hospitality sector, will get a boost.
RT-PCR report and fully vaccinated certificate are mandatory for pilgrims, the officials said.
Daily many people visit Dera Baba Nanak to catch a glimpse of the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, said residents of the Dera Baba Nanak town.
A few days back, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu had demanded from the Centre to keep its promise of setting up a ‘darshan sthal’ fitted with binoculars to allow devotees, who do not have passports, to get a clear ‘darshan’ of the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara.
An estimated 70,000 pilgrims had visited the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara so far after it was opened in November 2019.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which provides Indian devotees visa-free access to the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9, 2019, to mark the 550th birth anniversary of the first Sikh guru.
The Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.