India and Pakistan on Thursday signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor, which will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan without a visa. The signing of the agreement was delayed by a day.
A ceremony to mark the signing of the agreement took place at the Kartarpur Zero Point at the border in Narowal. The agreement was finalised after three rounds of negotiations.
On Monday, India had said it was disappointed that Pakistan had continued to insist on levying a service fee of $20 (over Rs 1,400) on every pilgrim visiting the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. However, India agreed to go ahead with signing the agreement.
Under the final agreement, at least 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the gurdwara every day without a visa. They will come in the morning and will have to return the same evening. The Ministry of Home Affairs said an online application system for the pilgrimage was now operational at http://prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in/kpr
Pilgrims will be allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 11,000 and a 7-kg baggage, PTI reported. They will not be allowed to venture beyond the shrine. According to the instructions issued by the ministry, children below 13 years and elderly people aged 75 years and above will have to travel in groups.
SCL Das, a joint secretary in the ministry, said Pakistan had agreed to make sufficient provisions for langars in the gurdwara premises, while on the Indian side, all the required infrastructure were nearing completion for timely inauguration of the corridor, ANI reported.
The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab state to the gurdwara in Kartarpur, where Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak is believed to have settled after his travels. He was also laid to rest in Kartarpur.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
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