Gurdaspur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first batch of over 500 Indian Sikh pilgrims to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan after inaugurating the Integrated Check Post of the 4.5 km-long Kartarpur Corridor at Dera Baba Nanak here Saturday afternoon.
At inauguration of the Integrated Check Post of the Kartarpur Corridor, the Prime Minister also greeted former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at Dera Baba Nanak.
The first batch of pilgrims included Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab were also part of the ‘jatha‘ (delegation).
Before dedicating the corridor to the nation, Modi partook langar (community kitchen) along with Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar.
Meanwhile, a leader of the UAE’s Sikh community said that the historic opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor offers a great opportunity for the Sikh community to bring India and Pakistan together in these testing times. Surender Singh Khandari, also thanked the leaders of both the countries for the momentous occasion.
Kandhari said Kartarpur was of historic and religious significance for Sikhs as this is where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev took his last breath.
“We consider this of the same importance as the Nankana Sahib Pakistan, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” he said.
“Guru Ji visited a number of far off places and visited several well-known and popular places of pilgrimage for Hindus and Muslims. After these journeys Guru Nanak Dev ji settled in Kartarpur before leaving his physical form,” Kandhari said.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony Modi said that the opening of Kartarpur Corridor and integrated check post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5 km-long Corridor, will bring “double happiness” adding, it will be easy to pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib gurudwara after opening of Kartarpur corridor.
Easrlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with BJP MP from Gurdaspur Sunny Deol, Union Minister Hardeep Puri and Shiromani Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Badal arrived at Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab.
The 4.5 km-long Kartarpur corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, a small town about four km from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The location in the neighbouring country is the place where the founder of Sikhism – Guru Nanak Dev – is believed to have spent the last eighteen years of his life.
On the other hand, ending the uncertainty over facilitation charges on 9 and 12 November, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said country won’t be charging the service fee of $20 from Indian pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on these two days. “It is a corridor of love and there is no sinister design in it,” Qureshi said on allegations that the corridor could be used to promote separatism in Punjab.