Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday said that Indian pilgrims would require a passport to use the Kartarpur Corridor to visit the gurdwara. The statement contradicted earlier remarks that Indian pilgrims will not need a passport.
“As we have a security link, the entry would be a legal one under a permit on a passport-based identity,” Ghafoor told a Pakistani news channel, according to Dawn. “There will be no compromise on security or sovereignty.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier said that Indian devotees would only need a valid ID to visit the gurdwara. On Wednesday, India had asked Pakistan to clarify whether passport will be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib, reported PTI.
Last month, India and Pakistan signed an agreement to operationalise the corridor, which will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district without a visa. It will be connected to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab state. Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak is believed to have settled down in Kartarpur after his travels. He was also laid to rest there.
Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the passenger terminal building at Dera Baba Nanak a day earlier.
On November 1, Khan had 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.
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. New Delhi has repeatedly expressed disappointment with Islamabad’s decision to charge every pilgrim a service fee of $20 (over Rs 1,400).
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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