Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said Indian Sikh pilgrims using the Kartarpur Corridor to visit the gurdwara there would not be charged fees on the day of the project’s inauguration and Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. The Indian pilgrims will also not need a passport to travel to the shrine.
The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab state to Kartarpur, where Nanak, Sikhism’s founder, is believed to have settled after his travels. He was also laid to rest there.
“For Sikhs coming for [a] 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,” he tweeted. “Also, no fee to be charged on [the] day of inauguration and on Guruji’s [Guru Nanak] 550th birthday.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he was happy and grateful for Khan’s gesture but urged Pakistan to “apply this not just to Sikhs but all citizens of secular India”, and to withdraw the fee for visitors on all days and not just two.
Khan’s remarks came after weeks of requests by India to waive the pilgrim fee. New Delhi has repeatedly expressed disappointment with Islamabad’s decision to charge every pilgrim a service fee of $20 (over Rs 1,400). The two countries signed an agreement to operationalise the corridor at a ceremony on October 24.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Passenger Terminal Building at Dera Baba Nanak on November 8, unidentified officials told The Times of India on Thursday. Following the ceremony, Modi will address a gathering nearly three kilometres from the terminal building, and then proceed to attend celebrations reportedly planned in the city of Sultanpur Lodhi, officials added.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor the following day.
According to the final agreement, at least 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the gurdwara every day without visa. They will visit in the morning and will have to return the same evening. An online application system for pilgrims is operational at http://prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in/kpr.
Pilgrims will be allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 11,000 and seven-kg of luggage. They will not be allowed to go beyond the shrine.
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