Dera Baba Nanak erupts in joy over reopening of Kartarpur corridor

Updated on Nov 17, 2021 01:16 AM IST
Dera Baba Nanak residents hail the Centre’s decision, saying the move to reopen Kartarpur corridor will boost local economy of the border town
The corridor, which connects the historic town of Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara which falls in Narowal district of Pakistan, was inaugurated on November 9, 2019, to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. (HT Photo)
The corridor, which connects the historic town of Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara which falls in Narowal district of Pakistan, was inaugurated on November 9, 2019, to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. (HT Photo)
ByAnil Sharma, Hindustan Times, Amritsar

The people of Dera Baba Nanak town in Gurdaspur are jubilant with the Centre announcing reopening of Kartarpur corridor after 20 months, on the occasion of Parkash Purb of Guru Nanak.

The corridor, which connects the historic town of Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara which falls in Narowal district of Pakistan, was inaugurated on November 9, 2019, to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The corridor was closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The residents of Dera Baba Nanak said with the reopening of the corridor not only the Sikh sangat’s devotional aspirations will be fulfilled, the decision will also boost the economy of the border town. They have also demanded from the Centre a relaxation in the process of applying for visiting Guru Nanak’s final resting place in the neighbouring country.

In a series of tweets, Union home minister Amit Shah said reopening the Kartarpur Corridor will benefit a large number of Sikh pilgrims. “This decision reflects the immense reverence of the Modi government towards Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji and our Sikh community. The nation is all set to celebrate the Prakash Utsav of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji on November 19, and I am sure PM Narendra Modi government’s decision to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will further boost the joy and happiness across the country,” the home minister tweeted.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leaders in Punjab met President Ram Nath Kovind and Amit Shah on Monday, requesting that the corridor be reopened.

“We can’t express our happiness. It’s like we have got everything. The Center’s decision, though late, but is at a right time,” said Baba Sukhdeep Singh, who claims to be the 17thdescendant of Guru Nanak.

He said, “There has been a marriage-like atmosphere in Dera Baba Nanak since the Centre’s announcement. The decision has also brought jubilation among the small and medium traders of the town. When the corridor was opened last year, the pilgrims used to purchase various items, including fresh vegetables and fruits, from the town market for Langar at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. The market of the town will flourish and the economy will flourish.”

He said, “As per media reports, only 250 pilgrims will be allowed in a jatha that will leave for Kartarpur Gurdwara to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 18 and 19. The number of pilgrims should be increased to 5,000, so that everyone can pay obeisance. The government should also ease the steps for applying for the pilgrimage. Only 62,000 people had visited the Gurdwara Kartarpur when the corridor was opened. Many people don’t know how to apply.”

Dera Baba Nanak municipal council president Parmeet Singh Bedi said, “There have been the same feelings of happiness among the people which were there when the corridor was inaugurated nearly two years ago. The decision will also bring new avenues for the traders. The town’s people have demanded that the corridor should never be closed.”

Gurkirpal Singh, a resident of the town, said, “Our joy knows no bounds. Around 3,000-5,000 people have been visiting Dera Baba Nanak daily to have a glimpse of the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara using a binocular. We have one more demand. The Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) had promised to construct Darshan Asthal (a raised platform to have a glimpse of the Kartapur Sahib gurudwara with the use of binoculars) at the border. The platform should be constructed immediately for all those who don’t have their passports and can’t cross the corridor.”

Dera Baba Nanak sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Harpreet Singh said the administration was ready to successfully implement all the decisions of the government.

Preparations on for first jatha’s visit tomorrow

The district administration of Gurdaspur has been on toes for making preparations for the visit of first jatha to Kartarpur Sahib.

Punjab chief minister (CM) Charanjit Singh Channi and other members of his cabinet will be the part of the first jatha on November 18.

Gurdaspur deputy commissioner (DC) Mohammad Ishfaq said the Chief Minister’s Office has sent a list of likely pilgrims to government of India for approval. “The number of pilgrims can be anywhere between 30 and 200. This will be a special delegation and it will be sent with the prior approval of the government of both the countries.”

Normally, it takes nearly 15 days for a pilgrim to get approval from governments of India and Pakistan to visit the final resting place of Guru Nanak via the corridor.

Sources said the CM wants the leaders of some other parties to be part of the delegation, but there was no official confirmation.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) and the Border Security Force (BSF) held a meeting at the integrated check post (ICP) at Dera Baba Nanak.

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