Kartarpur Corridor agreement could be signed on October 24: Sources
The troubled Kartarpur Corridor agreement between feuding neighbors India and Pakistan may not take place on Wednesday as scheduled. The development comes just a day after India accepted the terms of the agreement which would allow visa-free passage of Sikh pilgrims to the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev's final resting spot. Here are more details.
Kartarpur Corridor agreement could take place on Thursday
Sources told IANS that the Kartarpur Corridor agreement could be postponed by a day and it may now take place on Thursday at the zero line. However, no reason for the delay was stated and neither has there been an official confirmation of the same. Incidentally, India and Pakistan had earlier disputed over the latter levying a $20 service fee on every Kartarpur pilgrim.
Pakistan insists on $20 fee for pilgrimage
The Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday that India was ready to sign the agreement, however, it expressed disappointment over the $20 fee. Pakistan has maintained that it wishes to impose a $20 fee on every pilgrim visiting the holy shrine, raking in Rs. 21cr monthly with 5,000 pilgrims visiting. However, the steep fee would bar poor pilgrims from visiting the shrine.
'Pakistan PM's statement that fee will boost economy shameful'
Notably, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had earlier slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for "making a business out of faith." "Imran Khan's statement that this fee will boost the economy is highly shameful," Kaur said. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also said that the fee would deprive the less fortunate of a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of 'khulle darshan' of the historic Gurdwara."
Sikh pilgrims cut off from holy Kartarpur shrine since partition
To recall, the Kartarpur Corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur, India. Since India's partition, Sikh pilgrims have been cut off from the Darbar Sahib, where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life. The corridor will allow visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims to the shrine after obtaining a permit for the visit.
Kartarpur Corridor to be inaugurated on November 9
India will complete the corridor's 4.2 km-long Indian side by October 31. PM Khan and PM Modi will inaugurate respective sides of the corridor on November 9, ahead of Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary on November 12. The first lot of Indian pilgrims will be dispatched on November 9 along with a Sikh delegation led by Punjab CM and perhaps including ex-PM Manmohan Singh.