Kartarpur calling: Sikhs welcome chance to visit holy land

 thehindu.com  11/08/2019 20:24:41 

The Sikh community is elated with the opening of the Kartarpur corridor that will allow them to visit the Darbar Sahib in Pakistans Narowal district. The historic site is where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final years.

There cannot be a bigger honour than getting a chance to visit the Darbar Sahib as a part of the first jatra, said former director general of the police P.S. Pasricha, who started his journey from Mumbai on Friday. It has been a dream destination for every Sikh. Unreachable to us for all these years, this access is extremely valuable, he said. Nearly 350 people, including office-bearers of gurudwaras, associations and civil society members are a part of the first batch, he said.

For years, we have heard stories about this holy site from our grandparents, said Jasbir Singh Dham, president of the gurudwara in Chunabhatti and a trustee of Guru Nanak Vidhyak Sanstha, who is also a part of the first batch. His family migrated from Pakistans West Frontier province to India during Partition.

The community members reached Amritsar on Friday. After a nights stay, we will start for Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district by road and then take the Kartarpur corridor, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Integrated Check Post of the Kartarpur Corridor at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur on Friday.

Pakistans Prime Minister Imran Khan has been regularly updating pictures of the holy site and the new corridor. Last week, he announced that Sikhs coming for pilgrimage from India will not require a passport and can simply carry a valid identity proof. He also said the $20 fee will be waived on the day of inauguration and on Guru Nanaks 550th birthday on November 12.

However, many people are upset about the high entry fee. I think it will be difficult for Pakistan to maintain such a vast holy place with an increased footfall of pilgrims. I dont think it will be fair to expect no fees at all, but the fees can definitely be reduced, said Mr. Pascricha. He believes the new corridor will act as a bridge between India and Pakistan, which have had a strained relationship for long. It will open new avenues for dialogue, he said.

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