India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Saturday that it was yet to take a decision on opening its part of the Kartarpur Corridor, which allows Indian pilgrims to travel to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal without a visa, News18 reported. India had suspended the pilgrimage and registrations for visit to the gurdwara on March 16 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, India also asked Pakistan to construct a bridge at the Budhi Ravi Channel and other infrastructure to ensure safe movement of pilgrims over a stretch that gets waterlogged during the rains.
“We remain in touch with all concerned authorities, including ministries of home affairs and health and family welfare,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said according to Hindustan Times. “A decision on reopening of the corridor would be taken in accordance with the Covid-19 protocol and easing of restrictions.”
Srivastava said that in the bilateral agreement signed in October 2019, it was decided that the bridge and other infrastructure would be constructed, but there has been no movement from Pakistan in this regard till date. He said there had also been a technical meeting between India and Pakistan on August 27, but to no avail.
On Friday, Pakistan said it had reopened the Kartarpur Corridor after improvement of the coronavirus situation in the region, The Express Tribune reported. According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Sikh pilgrims from India could visit the Gurdwara from dawn to dusk as per the 2019 agreement. Pakistan had briefly opened the corridor in June to commemorate the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but India did not follow suit.
The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district. The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side and Khan across the border on November 9, 2019.