Headline : Kartarpur corridor
- The Kartarpur Sahib corridor was first proposed in 1999 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore, as a long-standing demand from the Sikh community for easy access to the revered shrine across the border where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.
- In August this year, during the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Army Chief had told visiting Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu that Pakistan hoped to build the corridor.
- Within a week of Sidhu’s return, the government also moved a resolution in the Punjab Assembly, adopted unanimously, seeking an uninterrupted corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib.
- However, the union government had criticised the move, and rejected the Pakistan offer.
- In September, there were further acrimonious exchanges over the announcement and an abrupt cancellation of talks between the Foreign Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
- However, despite the cancellation of talks and the public disavowal of the corridor offer, both sides have been in contact over the issue for the past few months.
- Now, both the governments have exchanged letters, committing to build the required infrastructure for Kartarpur corridor.
- Pilgrimages between India and Pakistan are governed by the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, which includes a list of shrines in Pakistan and India open for visitors from the other country, and for which visas are required.
- The Kartarpur Corridor, which will provide visa-free access from India to the shrine located 2 km inside Pakistan in Narowal when it becomes ready on both sides within a few months, may need a separate treaty.
Highlights of the news
- A cabinet meeting in Delhi proposed building a passage for the pilgrims accessible 365 days and 24 hours.
- The government of India urged the government of Pakistan to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory to facilitate easier access and smooth passage of Indian pilgrims throughout the year.
- India and Pakistan exchanged letters committing to build the required infrastructure for kartarpur corridor, allowing them to mark the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.
- Officials from India and Pakistan will meet soon to discuss the logistics of the corridor and point of border crossing where the roads which pilgrims will traverse on the Indian side from Dera Guru Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur district directly to the border and from the Pakistani side of the border directly to Kartarpur Darbar Sahib Gurudwara.
- Pakistan’s government informed that the Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone for the corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.
- The Indian cabinet also decided that preparations for the 550th anniversary of the founder of the Sikh faith will be overseen by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which will include the setting up of a “centre for interfaith studies” in Amritsar, University Chairs in U.K. and Canada for the study of Guru Nanak, and a railway train connecting holy sites for the community.
Impact of the move
- The Indian Cabinet endorsement of Pakistan’s proposition on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will reduce the harassment and burden of pilgrims significantly.
- For now, it is too early to say if the Kartarpur Corridor will lead to an all-round thaw in relations between the two countries.
- It could also lead to people on both sides of Punjab demanding other people-to-people initiatives.
About GurdwaraDarbar Sahib at Kartarpur
- The gurdwara at Kartarpur stands at the site of the final resting place of the first Sikh Guru, just across the border from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
- The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.
- It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
- The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view.
- Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.
About Kartarpur corridor
- Kartarpur Corridor is a proposed border-corridor (border gate) between India and Pakistan connecting the Sikh Holy shrine of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib to the holy shrine of Kartarpur Sahib (also referred to as KartarpurGurdwara) states of Punjab in Indiaand Pakistan.
The main goal of this proposed corridor is to facilitate the crossing of religious devotees to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, located in Narowal District, Pakistan, 120 km from Lahorebut only three kilometres from the Indian side of the border.
The historical Kartarpur Gurudwara also known as Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is situated on the banks of river Ravi and is considered to be the first gurdwara ever built.
- The length of the corridor is about 4 km, 2 km on either side of the international border.
About Guru Nanak Dev
- Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus.
- He was born in Punjab India (modern day Pakistan) and gave spiritual teachings based on the universal divinity of creation.
- He taught his followers to concentrate on spiritual practices which would enable them to transform their egotism into selflessness.
- Nanak was born in Nankana Sahib near Lahore in Modern day Pakistan in Hindu family.
- Although he had a deep interest in religion, he also had a rebellious streak, not always accepting religious dogma.
- Nanak taught that God was beyond religious dogma and external definition.
- During his lifetime, Guru Nanak attracted followers from many religious traditions.
- He taught his followers three basic religious principles.
- Selflessness – sharing with others, and giving to those who are less fortunate. But, also a selflessness of attitude – avoiding the pitfalls of egoism, pride and jealousy.
- Earning an honest living – living without deceit, exploitation or fraud.
- NaamJapna – Meditating on God’s name and repeating a mantra. Through the repetition of God’s name, Nanak taught that a follower could free himself from selfish tendencies and cultivate happiness. However, Nanak taught it was not just enough to repeat a mantra mechanically, but with selflessness and real zeal.
- A day after appointing his successor, Nanak died on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, aged 70.