India and Pakistan finally signed on Thursday an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor paving way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to pay visit the holy Darbar Sahib shrine in Pakistan. Pakistan has assured India to make sufficient provision for Langar (community kitchen) and distribution of Prasad.
The main point of contention in the signing of the Kartapur Corridor agreement was the insistence of Pakistan to levy $20 as a service charge per pilgrim per visit. India has consistently urged Pakistan to not levy any fee on the pilgrims.
In the previous three secretary-level meetings, India pushed for a levy-free pilgrimage for the devotees arguing that levy on pilgrims is not in consonance with the religious and spiritual sentiments of people.
India, however, agreed for the Kartapur Corridor agreement in the interest of the pilgrims and timely opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor before the 550th Prakash Purab. While the Agreement has been signed, India has again urged Pakistan to reconsider its insistence on levying the fee. India is ready to amend the agreement accordingly.
Meanwhile, the home ministry has issued a dos and don’ts for the pilgrims. Children below 13 years and elderly persons of about 75 years and above will have to travel in groups. The pilgrims will travel in the morning and shall have to return the same day.
Pilgrims, who wish to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan will be allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 11,000 and a 7-kg bag, and will not be allowed to venture beyond the shrine.
Eco-friendly material, preferably cloth bags, should be used during the pilgrimage and the surroundings should be kept clean. The pilgrims will be allowed to visit only Sri Kartarpur Sahib and not anywhere outside.
All pilgrims who propose to visit Sri Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan will have to register online (prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in) in advance and the applicant is required to register himself/herself in advance of the proposed date of travel.
Registration does not confer a right to travel, the Home Ministry said. 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.
Smoking, drinking and use of tobacco is not allowed inside the passenger terminal building (PTB) complex at the Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.
The pilgrims were advised to not to touch any unattended article and inform about anything suspicious to the authorities. Playing loud music and photographing others without permission is not allowed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally inaugurate the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 8. India and Pakistan had in September agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor. Pilgrims will only have to carry their passports to visit the revered Gurdwara in Pakistan.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years of his life at the gurdwara Kartarpur, located on the banks of the river Ravi.