New Delhi. 24 October 2019. India has signed the Agreement with Pakistan today on the modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor at Zero Point, International Boundary, Dera Baba Nanak. Representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Home Affairs along with the representatives from Government of Punjab have been present during the signing ceremony.
It is very well known that the Union Cabinet passed a resolution on 22 November 2018 to celebrate the historic occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Devji in a grand and befitting manner, throughout the country and across the globe.
In a landmark decision, the Union Cabinet also approved the building and development of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Boundary, to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, round the year, in a smooth and easy manner.
With the signing of this Agreement, a formal framework has been laid down for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
The highlights of the Agreement are: –
- Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor;
- The travel will be Visa Free;
- Pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport;
- Persons of Indian Origin need to carry OCI card along with the passport of their country;
- The Corridor is open from dawn to dusk. Pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day;
- The Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, to be informed in advance;
- Pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups, and also to travel on foot;
- India will send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days ahead of travel date. Confirmation will be sent to pilgrims 4 days before the travel date;
- The Pakistan side has assured India to make sufficient provision for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’;
The main issue that has been a point of discussion is the insistence of Pakistan to levy US Dollars 20 as service charge per pilgrim per visit. India has consistently urged Pakistan to not levy any fee on the pilgrims. It was stressed time and again, including in the previous three Joint Secretary Level meetings and at the diplomatic level, that this is not in consonance with the religious and spiritual sentiments of Indian pilgrims. India has shared its deep disappointment with Pakistan for its refusal to waive the fee. However, in the interest of the pilgrims and timely operationalization of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor before the 550th Prakash Purb, India has agreed to sign the Agreement today. While the Agreement has been signed, Government of India continues to urge this issue with the Government of Pakistan to reconsider its insistence on levying the fee. India remains ready to amend the Agreement accordingly.
India continues to pursue the issue of all-weather connectivity through the corridor. In this context, Government of India has built the bridge on Indian side and a temporary service road as an interim arrangement. It is expected that Pakistan will fulfil the assurance that it would build the bridge on their side at the earliest.
Provisions made for facilitation of Pilgrims
All the required infrastructure viz., the highway and the Passenger Terminal Building are nearing completion for timely inauguration of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. A robust security architecture has been put in place while facilitating smooth and easy passage of pilgrims.
For registration of pilgrims, online portal (prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in) has gone live today. The pilgrims may have to necessarily register themselves online on this portal and exercise their choice to travel on any day. Pilgrims will be informed by SMS and email of the confirmation of registration 3 to 4 days in advance of the date of travel. An Electronic Travel Authorization will also be generated. The pilgrims need to carry Electronic Travel Authorization, along with their passport, when they arrive at the Passenger Terminal Building.