Kartarpur is a town in Pakistan’s Narowal district on the bank of river Ravi. The town is about 120 km northeast of Lahore. Founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, spent last 18 years of his life in kartarpur until his death in 1539. The town has a famous gurudwara (sikh shrine). After partition in 1947, Indian sikhs lost access to kartarpur gurudwara. The gurudwara is just four kilometres from the border.
The gurudwara is visible from the Indian side. Indian Sikhs gather for sight of kartarpur gurudwara at Dera Baba Nanak Gurudwara, which is situated in India. Binoculars are installed at Dera Baba Nanak Gurudwara.
Can an Indian visit Kartarpur gurdwara?
On account of goodwill created due to historic bus trip to Lahore by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in February 1999, the Kartarpur gurdwara was opened to pilgrims after repairs. Presently, there are no restrictions on visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib provided pilgrim has a valid Pakistan visa.
What is the demand for Corridor?
Since independence, Sikh community in India has requested the Pakistani government to grant them direct access from Dera Baba Nanak to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, by building a “pilgrim corridor.” On either side of the corridor, there will be barbed wire. As part of the corridor, a bridge will be constructed over the river Ravi. There will be no need of visa to travel through corridor. India has also agreed to construct its end of a two-kilometre corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the border. The plan is to complete the corridor by November 23, 2019, the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
What are the chances of opening corridor?
India and Pakistan announced in November, 2018 that they would operationalize the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. The decision was welcomed as a big step in rebuilding relations.
However, after that the differences between the two governments have appeared over every detail: number of pilgrims to be accommodated, security restrictions, documentation required and mode of transportation. Moreover, the distrust has increased between the two governments after the Pulwama attack and the Balakot strike.
Also, India has security concerns over corridor. The “corridor” can be used by army and even terrorists. Also, in the past, gurudwaras in Pakistan have been used for a pro-Khalistan campaign.