- Kartarpur border with Pakistan awaits PMO clearance to reopen after being shut down for more than 20 months
- Plans of resumption by November 19th commemorated as Gurupurab, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The Government is speculating on the decision of reopening the Kartarpur border ahead of a meeting between BJP MPs of Punjab and PM Narendra Modi, followed by a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah afterwards. The Kartarpur border permitting Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the Gurudwara in Kartarpur was closed on March 2020, merely four months from the date of its inauguration.
The border remained closed for over 20 months in light of the coronavirus pandemic is now set to resume cross border movements enabling devotees to pay obeisance at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara.
Government sources state that the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs have given a clearance to the proposal and that it is yet to receive clearance from the Prime Minister’s office. The route is anticipated to open by November 19th which marks the birth anniversary of the Sikh founder Guru Nanak, widely celebrated as Gurupurab or “Prakash Parv”. The Gurudwara is located 4.7 kilometres across the border from the Indian ton of Baba Dera Nanak.
Given the Gurupurab festival, Pakistan’s Government had furnished approximately 8000 visas to Sikh pilgrims sanctioning their visit to Gurudwaras in Pakistan including Nankana Sahib (the birthplace of Guru Nanak) and The Kartarpur Gurudwara, where he breathed his last.
Pakistani officials were unsure of the Indian Government’s desire to reopen the corridor. The revealed that it was not closed from the Pakistani side and that the Indian Sikh devotees were already being assisted to visit the Kartarpur Gurudwara via the Atari-Wagah border crossing.
The travel distance between Baba Der Nanak to Kartarpur across the regular border is nearly 200kms. The Kartarpur corridor renovated on either side, facilitates pilgrims to travel visa-free.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi communicated that small scale travel is being conducted, in coordination with Pakistan, across the Atari-Wagah border Integrated Check Post. India had planned on sending 1,500 pilgrims through the border for the Gurupurab festivities scheduled from November 17th to 24th, however, clarity on the number of people who would be visiting and if they would avail the corridor (in case it opens) has not yet been received, he added.
The Kartarpur corridor is an infrequent initiative taken up by India and Pakistan amid dwindling ties between both nations owing to the Pulwama attack, the Balakot airstrike and amendment of article 370 on J&K.