On Tuesday, 12th November 2019, Indian Sikhs finally received the biggest gift they had asked for on the 550th birthday of their Guru (Teacher), Guru Nanak Dev. The Kartarpur Corridor is an answer to millions of prayers by the pilgrims who yearned to see the site where their Guru settled and assembled the community and lived till his last breath.

Kartarpur Corridor, a 431-kilometre long corridor that not only connects Sikhs to their Holy Site but also the two nations India and Pakistan as it links the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan).

The Indian Sikhs started their struggle to visit the second holiest site of their religion decades ago. The demand to build the corridor was first made by the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus ride to Lahore in 1999, while it was approved by Pakistani Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf in 2000.However, two-decades-old request to have visa-free access to the shrine that lies only four kilometres away from the borders remained unanswered for years till the Sikhs were allowed to see the Gurudwara in Pakistan standing on the border via telescope.

The Sikhs gathered in large numbers to perform “Darshan” or “sacred viewing” of the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib as an initiative by the Indian Government and Border Security Force (BSF) in 2018 after the decision announced by Indian parliamentary standing committee members to not build the corridor.

However, the Sikhs’ struggle discontinued in 2018 as the then Tourism Minister of the Government of Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his friend from cricketing days and newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan and made him a request to construct the corridor.

The “Corridor of Peace” was inaugurated ahead of Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Purab celebrations as promised by the Pakistani Government. The corridor was thrown open on 9th November 2019 facilitating the first Jatha (batch) of more than 550 pilgrims. The ceremony was addressed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Followed the opening, around 250 and 122 Indian pilgrims visited the corridor on Sunday and Monday.

“This is the first time when 40,000 devotees reached here on Parkash Purab. Earlier, nearly 8,000 to 9,000 devotees would pay obeisance on the occasion,” said Dera Baba Nanak municipal council president Parmeet Singh Bedi.

While many pilgrims who do not have a passport returned from Indian Border, Bedi said, “Most of the devotees wanted to cross over with their Aadhaar cards. Many had even brought their passports along but were not aware of the online registration process. So they had to return after paying obeisance from the ‘Darshan Asthan’.

While the Sikh minority on the Pakistani side also celebrated the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev by attending the event at the first and holiest site in the Sikh religion, Gurdwara Janamsthan at Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, the birthplace of Sikhism’s founder.

In his speech at the event, the Federal Minister for Interior, Ijaz Shah said that the corridor is a “Great Gift” from the Pakistan Government to the Sikhs and wished that it would pave the way to peace and friendship. He also said that the government would continue to look after the shrines of religious minorities, including the Sikh community.

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