The 'kar sewa' of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, an important Sikh shrine in Pakistan, has been given to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
The decision was taken by Pakistan Waqf Trust Property Board chairman Sadiq-ul-Farooqui after his meeting with members of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) on Thursday.
The board is the final authority in Pakistan on all matters related to the management of gurdwaras and properties attached to these shrines.
The announcement was made by PSGPC general secretary Gopal Singh. The decision was also conveyed through telephone to SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.
"I welcome the decision and for this I thank the board chairman, the PSGPC and all Sikhs of Pakistan," said Makkar.
He further said all technicalities related to the 'kar sewa' will be discussed with the Waqf Board and the PSGPC. An SGPC team will visit the gurdwara very soon, he added.
The shrine in Kartarpur Sahib is dedicated to Guru Nanak as he breathed his last there. The shrine is visible from Dera Baba Nanak town of Gurdaspur district. The shrine is located at an isolated place across the Ravi river, just two km from the border. The SGPC jathas that go to Pakistan on important occasions such as Baisakhi and the birthday of Guru Nanak do not get visas to visit this particular shrine.
However, at times, special permission is granted by the Pakistan government to select Sikh pilgrims for a journey to the shrine.
The SGPC had for long been pressing the PSGPC for granting it the 'kar sewa' of the shrine, which needs repair and renovation.
Makkar said the SGPC has conveyed its desire to the PSGPC for constructing a 'serai' (rest house) near Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore. The existing accommodation was not sufficient, especially during the festive season, when there is a rush of pilgrims from India and from other countries, he said.
"We are expecting to get the permission very soon," he added. Of late, the SGPC had not been on the best of terms with the PSGPC particularly after the latter decided to follow the original Nanakshahi calendar of 2003, defying the directions of Akal Takht. The SGPC adopted the revised calendar that was released in March this year.
The SGPC also didn't like the PSGPC handing over the 'kar sewa' of the Dera Sahib gurdwara, including its 'langar' (community kitchen) hall, to Paramjit Singh Sarna, a former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).