WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India
Jul 14, 2019, 02.40 PM
Pakistan delegation in Wagah on Sunday agreed to allow visa-free, year-long travel to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara for Indian citizens and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders.
Pakistan has also agreed to allow 5,000 pilgrims, every day, to visit the Gurdwara on foot, both as individuals or in groups, Home Ministry's Joint Secretary (Internal Security) SCL Das told reporters in a press conference.
Pakistan has also agreed to build a bridge on its side.
The Indian side had told the Pakistani delegation that due to the high demand expected, at least 5,000 pilgrims should be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib each day.
The Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in Ministry of Home Affairs and Deepak Mittal, Joint Secretary (PAI--Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) in Ministry of External Affairs.
"Pakistan side has assured our delegation in response to the request made that no anti-India activity will be allowed by them," SCL Das said.
"The Government is fully confident that India would be ready to commence the pilgrimage through Kartarpur corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji," he added.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
The first round of talks was held in Attari on March 14 in the shadow of escalating bilateral tensions following the Pulwama terror attack by a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14.
India had urged Pakistan to take into consideration the sentiments of the pilgrims to have smooth, easy, unrestricted access throughout the year to be able to visit the Holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. In this context, the following requests were reiterated:
1: 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor every day given the expected high demand on our side.
2: 10,000 additional pilgrims be allowed to visit on special occasions.
3: There should be no restrictions on the pilgrims in terms of their faith.
4: Not only Indian nationals but also the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) holding OCI cards be allowed to use the Kartarpur Corridor facility.
5: The movement should be visa-free and Pakistan should reconsider charging any fee or introducing any permit system.
6: Pilgrims should be allowed to visit throughout the year, seven days a week.
7: Pilgrims should have the choice to visit as individuals or in a group.
8: Pilgrims should have the choice to visit on-foot on pilgrimage to the holy shrine.
9: Provisions should be made for the preparation and distribution of langar and prasad for the pilgrims.
Officials from both the nations- India and Pakistan met to finalise the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor and related technical issues.