Religion could become a hurdle in the way of Kartarpur corridor2 min read . Updated: 24 Jan 2019, 01:16 AM IST
- Pakistan’s demand that only Sikhs be allowed to visit Kartarpur seems to be a cause for major concern
- Pakistan points out that the corridor is being built to allow Indian Sikhs to visit Kartarpur Sahib, 4.7 kms from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa
NEW DELHI : India and Pakistan are likely to spar over the restriction of access to the Kartarpur corridor linking the town of Dera Baba Nanak in India to Gurdwara Darbar Singh Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan to Sikh devotees, when the negotiators representing the two countries sit down for the final discussions in February and March.
Pakistan pointed out that the corridor is being built to allow Indian Sikhs to visit Gurdwara Darbar Singh Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. As such, people of the religion should be given priority to visit, according to Pakistan.
“Pakistan has the right to decide who would access their territory, but when it comes to faith both Sikhs and Hindus, especially in Punjab have been following the faith," said a person familiar with the matter. The situation will be tricky and the two countries should try to work out solutions.
The draft agreement submitted by Pakistan to India on the proposed movement across the corridor has laid a few conditions for movement of pilgrims from India. According to the draft pact, only Sikh pilgrims will be allowed to cross the border in batches of 15, with a cap of 500 devotees per day.
Devotees will have to carry their passports, which will be used as travel documents and as identity proof.
Pakistan has also asked for the names of those crossing over be sent seven days in advance for clearances and checks. However, it is the demand that the cross over be restricted to Sikh devotees alone that seems to be causing major concern.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday opposed the “discrimination", saying that “Islamabad was well within its rights to set terms and conditions relating to its territorial safety and security, but it should take into consideration the fact that the first Sikh Guru’s ideology is not confined to Sikhs but is emulated by people of all faiths."
The Sikh ethos prescribes non-discrimination, with even the concept of langar being casteless service for all, said the chief minister, adding that all gurdwaras are open to all, without religious bias.
A large number of Hindus in India are ardent followers of Guru Nanak Dev and it is their cherished dream to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, which is closely associated with the first Sikh Guru, Singh pointed out.