Kartarpur corridor’s second anniversary today, travel remains suspended

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Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, a visa-free border crossing that connects the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to India. The 4.7-kilometre-long corridor was inaugurated on November 9, 2019 to commemorate the 550th Parkash Gurpurb (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. It is believed that the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib is the final resting place of Guru Nanak.

The gurdwara had faced neglect for 70 years after Independence due to its location along the International Border. The proposal for the Kartarpur corridor was first made in 1999 by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The proposal was part of the Delhi-Lahore bus diplomacy.

Before this, Sikh pilgrims from India had to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur which is an almost 125-kilometre-long journey.

Currently, the movement of pilgrims to Pakistan through the Kartarpur corridor has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and the neighbouring country has banned all travel from India citing the surge in cases in April this year. It is shut since March 2020.

India had gone ahead with the opening of the corridor last year to respect the sentiments of the Sikh community despite strong misgivings about several steps taken by the Pakistani side, including the imposition of a service fee of $20 on every pilgrim, and security concerns.

Following the closure of the corridor in March, Pakistan had offered to reopen it in June. Pakistan has also opened its section of the corridor on the occasion of some Sikh festivals.

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