A 550-member Indian delegation, comprising former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a number of lawmakers and eminent citizens, will visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday.
The corridor is scheduled to be inaugurated on Saturday on both the Indian and Pakistani sides.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is said to be the place where Guru Nanak Dev died after spending more than 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.
It is therefore the second holiest site of the Sikh religion after Gurdwara Janam Asthan — the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev — located at Nankana Sahib, also in Pakistan.
The Kartarpur Corridor provides a visa-free access to Indian Sikhs to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
It will be inaugurated by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.
The corridor has been established to commemorate his birth anniversary.
The Inter-Services Public Relations — the media wing of the army — and the Press Information Department have made arrangements for transporting the local and Indian journalists to the corridor on Saturday morning.
Though confusion prevailed over whether the pilgrims will require a passport or not.
Pakistan Foreign Office said that the PM has waived off the requirement of a passport for Kartarpur pilgrims and this waiver would extend up to one year as a special gesture on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
However, Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the pilgrims would require a passport to use the Corridor.
But Pakistan has waived the $ 20 service charge per pilgrim per visit on November 9 and November 12 and also waived the requirement of 10-day advance intimation for the mega ceremony.
Pakistan’s Punjab police deployed a 100-member special ‘Tourism Police Force’ for the security of the Indian pilgrims using the corridor on a daily basis from Saturday.
The Pakistan Rangers will be responsible for the security of the corridor and the Punjab police will coordinate with it.
Over 2,000 Sikh pilgrims from India arrived at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ahead of the opening of the landmark corridor.
The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib was cleaned on Thursday for the grand occasion.
Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, Pakistan and India after tough negotiations signed a landmark agreement last week to operationalise the corridor to allow Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
The two countries decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine daily.
India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational through the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims, except kids and elderly persons, will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups.
— With inputs from agencies
Photographs: @ImranKhanPTI/Twitter; PTI Photo