Pakistan, India reopen Kartarpur Sahib corridor for Sikh pilgrims

The Kartarpur corridor, a visa-free crossing allows Indian Sikhs to visit the temple just 4km inside Pakistan where the religion’s founder Guru Nanak passed away in 1539.

Guru Nanak had spent the last 18 years of his life at Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan and his white-domed shrine is visible from across the border in India.

In 2019, the corridor was first opened for Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary but was closed last year in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The corridor connecting the Indian and Pakistani Punjab, is the birthplace of Sikhism, which was divided between the two countries after they gained independence from the Britishes in 1947.

Sikhs are minority community in the Muslim-majority Pakistan, even though many of their religious sites remain there.

Hailed as a corridor of peace, the Kartarpur crossing was reopened as the nuclear-armed South Asian rival nations upheld their ceasefire agreement in the disputed region for months.

On Tuesday, Home Minister Amit Shah said tweeted, “In a major decision, that will benefit large numbers of Sikh pilgrims, PM @narendramodi govt has decided to re-open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from tomorrow.”

“I am sure that [the] govt’s decision to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib corridor will further boost the joy and happiness across the country,” Shah said.

A Pakistani official who received the pilgrims, Haji Ashraf was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera on Wednesday that dozens of Sikh men and women from India had crossed into Pakistan on the first day of the crossing’s reopening.

In the coming days, thousands more are expected to pass through the corridor to participate in an annual celebration on Friday.

The Indian Sikh pilgrims have a difficult time to visit it, as they have long been demanding a road link and easing of travel permits.

Meanwhile, India has also opened the Wagah border crossing in Punjab for the weeklong celebrations in Kartarpur.

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