Everything a UPSC aspirant need to know bout the Kartarpur Corridor
About Dera Baba Nanak - Sri Kartarpur Sahib Pilgrimage Village Kartarpur is located on the west bank of river Ravi where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the last 18 years of his life. Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak is about 1 km from the Indo- Pakistan border and on the east bank of River Ravi. To the west side of the river is located the town of Kartarpur, Pakistan. Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib falls in district Narowal of Pakistan, about 4.5 k.m. from the international border near the historic town of Dera Baba Nanak, District Gurdaspur, Punjab. The Indian part of the Dera Baba Nanak - Sri Kartarpur Sahib corridor involves a 4.1 k.m. long four-lane highway from Dera Baba Nanak to the international border and a state of the art Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) at the international border. Dera Baba Nanak is a city situated in the Gurdaspur district in the state of Punjab, India. Followers of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji built the town and named it Dera Baba Nanak after their great ancestor.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa-free border crossing and corridor, connecting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to the border with India. The crossing allows Sikh devotees from India to visit the gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the India–Pakistan border on the Pakistani side without a visa.
However Pakistani Sikhs are unable to use the border crossing, and cannot access Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side without first obtaining an Indian visa or unless they work there.
The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan respectively, as part of the Delhi–Lahore Bus diplomacy. On 26 November 2018, the foundation stone was laid down on the Indian side; two days later, on 28 November 2018, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan did the same for the Pakistani side.
The corridor was completed for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on 12 November 2019. Khan said "Pakistan believes that the road to the prosperity of region [sic] and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace", adding that "Pakistan is not only opening the border but also their hearts for the Sikh community".
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared the decision by the two countries to go ahead with the corridor to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, saying that the project could help in easing tensions between the two countries.
Previously, Sikh pilgrims from India had to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125 kilometres (78 miles) journey, even though people on the Indian side of the border could also physically see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur from the Indian side, where an elevated observation platform was constructed.
Proposals for similar corridors
- Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh demanded the same visa-free access corridor at Dera Baba Nanak, India for Pakistani Sikhs to visit and pay obeisance at Gurudwara Sri Darbar Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak.
- Corridor to Gurdwara Rori Sahib, the historic gurudwara of Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana at Jahman village near Lahore.
- Corridor to Gurdwara Lahura Sahib, outside Ghawind village near Lahore Corridor to Gurudwara Jhari Sahib, the historic gurudwara associated with Guru Amar Das at Tergay village in Kasur District.
- Corridor to historic Gurdwara Bhai Bahlol at Qadiwind village in Kasur District.
- Corridor to Gurudwara Chhevin Patshahi Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib at Padhana village near Lahore.
- Furthermore, there has been a request by the Kashmiri Pandit community for a corridor allowing them to visit the Sharada Peeth temple.
- In March 2019, Pakistani media reported that Pakistan is exploring the possibility of a corridor for Indian pilgrims, and maybe close to approving a plan.
- However, the Pakistani government has since said that a decision has not been made.
- Also, a Western Pahari Corridor from Shimla to Murree has also been proposed under the Aman ki Asha initiative to link the similar Western Pahari language-based regions of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Azad Kashmir and Pothohar Plateau for boosting commercial and cultural ties.
Registration process: It is a visa-free travel corridor but an Electronic Travel Authority document known as ETA is required, which can be obtained by registering an application at the online website of the Indian Government. Even with a USD$20 fee waiver for all for two days I.e. November 9 and 12, the initial turnout was low due to the complicated booking process and the fact that many Indian citizens lack passports.
Aam Aadmi Party, BJP Indore MP Shankar Lalwani, The former DSGMC president and SGPC demanded that the Government of India simplify the process. Important conditions of travel include: Only Indians resident or overseas citizens can travel by corridor, Pakistanis cannot.
Children or aged persons of all ages can register to apply. After 15 days of travel by the corridor, another registration can be done for the second visit. Registration can only be done online at the above-mentioned website of the Indian Government.
Lahore-based historian, Fakir S. Aijazuddin, characterised it as a "unique experiment" in cross-border ties between India and Pakistan. He claimed that the universality symbolised by Guru Nanak can bring the people of all religions together. The corridor has been described as Guru Nanak's legacy project depicting his way of living life and regarded as a 'heartwarming' exchange between both Punjabs.
A special episode was dedicated to the Kartarpur Corridor in the Hindi TV serial Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala.
Sunny Deol stated that Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will help maintain peace between India and Pakistan. Many Sikh pilgrims praised Pakistani PM Imran Khan and former Indian Punjab minister Sidhu, whom they gave credit for the corridor's opening. The State Department of the United States also welcomed the opening of the corridor.
RailTel Corporation of India launched a free RailWire WiFi service to pilgrims at Dera Baba Nanak railway station and Integrated Check Post. Jalandhar based Republic Motors provided six campus electric carts for the travel of pilgrims from Integrated Check Post (ICP) to zero points. On 8 November 2019, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced that the Government of Delhi will bear all expenses and cost of Kartarpur Sahib pilgrimage under Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra Yojana
- All Pilgrims who propose to visit Sri Kartarpur Sahib in district Narowal, Pakistan may register here in advance.
- The applicant is required to register himself/herself in advance of the proposed date of travel.
- Registration does not confer a right to travel.
- Applicants who are granted permission may be informed only 4 days before the proposed date of travel. Therefore, Applicants should make their travel arrangements in advance.
- Pilgrims will go in the morning and shall have to return the same day.
- Pilgrims shall be allowed to visit only Sri Kartarpur Sahib and not anywhere outside.
- Eco-friendly material, preferably cloth bags should be used & surroundings should be kept clean.
- Currency as per RBI regulations must be followed.
- Only one baggage up to 7 kg weight including drinking water may be carried.
- Do not carry any item mentioned in the negative list
- Smoking, drinking and use of tobacco is not allowed inside Passenger Terminal Building(PTB) Complex
- Do not touch any unattended article. Inform about anything suspicious to the authorities.
- Playing loud music and photographing others without permission may not be done.
Distance from Amritsar 45 km by NH354B
Distance from Batala 24 km by District Road
Distance from Gurdaspur 30 km by NH354
Distance from Jalandhar 112 km via Batala
Security concerns and propaganda at Kartar Pur corridor
In November 2019, Indian intelligence reported that they spotted alleged terrorist training camps in the Narowal district where the gurdwara is located. The Foreign Office of Pakistan rebutted the Indian claims as baseless propaganda. In 2019, in a highly criticized act, the Pakistan army placed an unexploded bomb on display inside the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara premises with an accompanying banner alleging that the Indian Air Force had dropped this bomb during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war on the gurdwara in an attempt to destroy it. The Sikh pilgrims voiced their sentiments against any "dirty politics" in the name of the Guru.
Kartarpur Corridor project
In August 2018, Indian Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan's inaugural ceremony where he was told by the Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa of Pakistan's willingness to open the Dera Baba Nanak–Kartarpur corridor on Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary. Given the clear time frame, this set the ball rolling. In August 2018, another resolution related to the corridor in the Indian Punjab Vidhan Sabha was moved by chief minister Amarinder Singh, which was passed unanimously.
Following this, the government of Indian Punjab decided to approach the prime minister of India related to the opening of the corridor. On 30 October 2018, a group of Sikh Americans sought the Indian prime minister's help in opening the corridor. In November 2018, the Indian Cabinet approved the plan to set up the corridor and appealed to Pakistan to do the same.
The Pakistani foreign minister S. M. Qureshi responded by tweeting that Pakistan had "already conveyed to India" that it would open a corridor. In August 2019, India and Pakistan agreed to allow visa-free travel of Indian citizens to Kartarpur, but differences persisted about Indian consular officers being located at the site.
On 24 October 2019, S.C.L. Das, Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in the Union Home Ministry from India and Pakistan Foreign Office Director-General South Asia and SAARC Mohammad Faisal met at Zero Point near Dera Baba Nanak in the border town of Gurdaspur to ink the memorandum of understanding. The signing of this agreement has paved the way for 5,000 Indian pilgrims to visit the holy site without a visa on a daily basis. Under the agreement, the pilgrims would come in the morning and return in the evening after visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
Each visitor would be required to pay USD $20 as a service charge, which as per Pakistan Foreign Office's DG South Asia & SAARC Mohammad Faisal, would only cover one-third of the current operational cost. India however, had urged Pakistan to waive off the fees for pilgrims. In response, on 1 November 2019, Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan announced on Twitter that Sikh pilgrims coming from India for a pilgrimage to Kartarpur will not be charged any fee on the day of inauguration and on Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary on 12 November 2019.
The Pakistan government as a "special gesture" had also waived off the passport requirement for Kartarpur pilgrims extending up to one year. However, the Indian government decided against availing "concessions" announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs announced that a passport would be required per the agreement between the two countries