In November last year, the Cabinet had approved the construction of a passenger terminal building (PTB complex) at the cost of Rs 190 crore which is expected handle immigration and customs clearance facilities for 5,000 pilgrims on regular days.
The first meeting of officials of India and Pakistan to finalise the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor to enable Indian pilgrims to pray at the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in the neighbouring country will take place on Thursday. The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji.
In November last year, the Cabinet had approved the construction of a passenger terminal building (PTB complex) at the cost of Rs 190 crore which is expected handle immigration and customs clearance facilities for 5,000 pilgrims on regular days. And during specials days when there will be surge of pilgrims, facilities have been created in the first phase to take care of additional 10,000.
The meeting which will take place at Attari Border is being held to discuss the draft agreement for setting up a dedicated corridor that will allow pilgrims from India to visit the Sikh shrine located in Pakistan without obtaining a visa.
The Government of Punjab has been pushing for a passport and visa free `darshan’ for the pilgrims. The two sides will also address the technical aspects related to the project which need to be aligned.
Both India and Pakistan believe the corridor can help in “facilitating and fortifying” people-to-people bond of the two countries.
To a question, sources told Financial Express Online that “Security is paramount as we are creating a facility on the International Border. It will be under 24×7 surveillance, intrusion free and completely secure and BSF will take care of the security on this side.”
According to sources officials from the various ministries including Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Punjab, National Highway Authority, Road Transport and Border Security Force (BSF) will be attending the meeting. The Indian side will be led by Joint Secretary (Foreigners) MHA, Anil Malik and will also include Joint Secretary (PAI–Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) MEA, Deepak Mittal and other officials.
From the Pakistan side the delegation will be led by Director-General South Asia and SAARC Dr Mohammad Faisal along with officials from Pakistan’s interior, law, and religious affairs ministry.
The meeting is taking place against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack last month in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed, triggering India-Pakistan tensions.
Ministry of External Affairs last week had clarified that this is not resumption of talks between the two sides. Official spokesperson of MEA Raveesh Kumar had said in response to a query: “It is not a resumption of bilateral dialogue. It is related to emotions and sentiments of Indian citizens of Sikh faith and our decision to meet reflects our strong commitment to the operationalisation of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.”
All you want to know about Kartarpur Corridor:
– The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, located about 4.5 km from the international border
– It is a state of the art infrastructure spread over 50 acres of land on the Indian side
– It will be a green building, which will be disabled friendly
– It is near the border town of Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab
– Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and was his final resting place
– It will be put in place well before the commemoration of 550 years anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in Nov 2019
– Both countries are trying to facilitate the travel of pilgrims to offer prayers at the Gurdwara
– The Sikh Community has been demanding this corridor for over 70 years now
– The design of the complex has been inspired by ‘Khanda’ – the symbol of Sikhism
– It is located 4 Kms away from the International Border (IB)
– 300 feet National Monumental Flag at the IB
– Gate with public amenities at Zero point at IB
– Established the first Sikh Guru in 1522, the Gurdwara is located on the banks of river Ravi
– Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had first suggested the corridor when he took the bus trip to Lahore in 1999
– In November 2018, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave approval for the corridor
– Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh attended the ground-breaking ceremony in Gurdaspur’s Mann village near the border