The plan to build a corridor on the Indian side leading to the border near the gurdwara was among a slew of proposals cleared during a Cabinet meeting to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019.
India and Pakistan announced on Thursday that they will build a corridor on their respective sides to let Sikh pilgrims visit the iconic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi in the neighboring country.
The plan to build a corridor on the Indian side leading to the border near the gurdwara was among a slew of proposals cleared during a Cabinet meeting to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019. The corridor on the Indian side will be built as an “integrated development project” with funding from the central government, and the Indian government called on its Pakistani counterpart to develop a similar corridor on its territory to “recognize the sentiments of the Sikh community”, said people familiar with the developments.
“In the landmark decision, the Cabinet approves building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border. Kartarpur corridor project with all modern amenities and facilities to be implemented with Central Government funding,” home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted minutes after the Cabinet meeting got over.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Punjab chief minister CM Amarinder Singh will lay the foundation stone of the corridor on November 26, news agency PTI reported citing sources in the state government.
“Pakistan has already conveyed to India its decision to open Kartarpura Corridor for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary,” Qureshi tweeted. “We welcome the Sikh community to Pakistan for this auspicious occasion.”
India’s outreach to Pakistan also marked the first formal contact between the two sides since New Delhi called off a meeting of the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in September over terror-related concerns. It comes at a time when there has been a sharp uptick by pro-Khalistan groups in countries such as Canada, the UK, and the US. There have also been reports of Pakistan allegedly backing some pro-Khalistan elements in western countries.
“The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. The government of Pakistan will be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory,” Singh said in another tweet. Briefing reporters, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said the proposed corridor would have visa and customs facilities for pilgrims and would be equipped with modern amenities.