India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor, officials said. However, during the meeting between the two sides at Attari in Amritsar, Pakistan insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, which was not agreeable to the Indian side.
Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian Consular or protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises. Pakistan side was urged to reconsider its position, officials said, adding that the two sides agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan without any restrictions.
Persons of Indian origin holding OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card too can visit the Gurdwara using the Kartarpur corridor, official sources said. It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine every day and that additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by Pakistan side, they added.
In November 2018, India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak. "Pakistan has conveyed its solemn commitment to increase this number to the maximum possible," said a source.
In the meeting, it was also decided that the corridor will be operational throughout the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups.
Both sides agreed to build bridge at Budhi Ravi channel. Pending the construction of the bridge on the Pakistan side, both sides agreed to the crossing point coordinates of the temporary service road, sources said.