Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor – a 4.5 km-long passage linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan – and flagging off the first batch of over 500 Indian Sikh pilgrims from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur.
The "historic" Kartarpur Corridor was thrown open ahead of the 550th birth anniversary on 12 November of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose final resting place is in Darbar Sahib.
Modi flagged off the first batch of pilgrims led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to Darbar Sahib through the corridor. 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).
The prime minister inaugurated the passenger terminal building of the corridor, also known as the Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built corridor, on the Indian side.
Before dedicating the corridor to the nation, Modi partook langar (community kitchen) along with Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar.
Speaking at the opening of the corridor, Modi said, "It is a corridor for the nation. I want to thank Prime Minister Imran Khan in extending support to expedite the initiative of Kartarpur Corridor."
At the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post at Dera Baba Nanak, the prime minister lauded Guru Nanak Dev for being an inspiration to human kind.
"When Guru Nanak Dev had left Kartarpur nobody knew that he will give a new direction to the society. He gave the message of unity and universal brotherhood," said Modi.
The prime minister also thanked his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan for extending support in expediting the initiative of Kartarpur Corridor and understanding India's sentiment on the issue.
Donning a saffron coloured turban (head gear), Modi watched a video on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. The prime minister was also shown a model of the Kartarpur corridor.
At the time of flagging off the jatha, Modi met Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, and had a brief chat with him.
The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, with a design inspired by Khanda – a symbol of faith in Sikh community – has been constructed on 15 acres of land. The fully air-conditioned building, akin to an airport, has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5,000 pilgrims a day.
It has all necessary public amenities such as kiosks, washrooms, child care and first-aid facilities, prayer rooms and snacks counters. The project was executed by the central government agency Land Ports Authority of India.
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev on Saturday and asserted that the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a testimony to Pakistan's commitment to regional peace.
In his message on the occasion, Khan said, "we believe that the road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace," state-run Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying.
"Today we are not only opening the border, but also our hearts for the Sikh community," he said.
Khan said the unprecedented gesture of goodwill from his government was a reflection of its deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev and religious sentiments of the Sikh community.
India had signed an agreement with the neighbouring nation on 24 October, 2019, on the modalities for operationalisation of the corridor at 'Zero Point' of the international boundary at Dera Baba Nanak.
On 22 November, 2018, the Union Cabinet had passed a resolution to celebrate the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a "grand and befitting manner" throughout the country and across the globe.
The Cabinet had also approved the building and development of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the international boundary to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib round the year in a smooth and easy manner.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2019 18:26:01 IST