Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday sought permission from the External Affairs Ministry to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday sought permission from the External Affairs Ministry to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on November 9. The cricketer-turned-politician also wrote a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who forwarded it to the chief secretary for necessary action.
"As a humble Sikh, it shall be a great honour to pay obeisance to our great Guru Baba Nanak on this historic occasion and connect to our roots," wrote Sidhu, who is a legislator from Amritsar East. "Therefore, I may be permitted to visit Pakistan for this auspicious occasion," the former minister said.
India and Pakistan signed the Kartarpur agreement at ‘zero line’ on October 24. The simple ceremony was held at the ‘zero line’ near Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. Officials of either countries didn’t cross the border. No senior official was present during the signing of the pact. Earlier, India had asked Pakistan to review the $20 of fees levied on pilgrims. There are also reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present to see of the Kartarpur pilgrims during a ceremony on November 8. The entire issue is based on Indian pilgrims’ rights to visit the Kartarpur Gurdwara, which is said to be the site where Guru Nanak spent his final years. So far, Indian pilgrims could have the ‘darshan’ of the gurdwara by binoculars kept at the border.
Despite repeated requests from Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Centre, Pakistan was adamant on imposing the facilitation charge. In the final draft proposal sent to India earlier this month, Islamabad made it clear that every pilgrim from India will have to pay USD 20 to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. Although India has once agin asked Pakistan to reconsider its decision, Pakistan is highly unlikley to give up its plan as the ties between the two countries has been strained over the last few years.
India and Pakistan have decided to build a special corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district. The Indian side of the Kartarpur corridor, which is likely to facilitate the visa-free travel of Sikh pilgrims on both sides, is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.