Kartarpur Corridor Talks Deferred: Pro-Khalistan Leader Among The Concerns During Negotiations

Kartarpur Corridor Talks Deferred: Pro-Khalistan Leader Among The Concerns During NegotiationsGurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (Sandeep Kumar via Facebook)

Kartarpur Corridor, a long pending proposal from India is reportedly being revived by Pakistan. The corridor was proposed by the then PM of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 during his bus ride to Lahore.

The corridor involves a road link for Sikh pilgrims to visit the famous Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, which is around three-four km from the International Border. The 16th century Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi is important for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev, their main guru, spent 18 years here. The gurudwara was established by the first Sikh Guru in 1522.

India in its recent meeting with Pakistan expressed its displeasure and concerns for having a pro-Khalistan leader as member of the committee that oversees the corridor.

The ministry of external affairs stated in a statement that “India has also shared concerns and sought clarifications on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor. It has been conveyed that the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response.”

Gopal Singh Chawla is known as one of the main propagators of the Sikh movement seeking a separate homeland for the community. He is reported to be the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. His name had cropped up in the investigations into the grenade attack on the Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar in which three were killed in November last year. Chawla is also reported to have prevented Indian diplomats from visiting a gurdwara in Lahore.

“The government of India remains committed to realise the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Corridor in a safe, secure, smooth and easy manner,” the report also said. “Meanwhile, in order to take forward the infrastructure development for the Corridor in an expeditious manner, India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting.”

The next round of talks was scheduled to be held on April 2 at the Wagah border.