Following the maiden meeting between Indian and Pakistani delegations on Thursday (14 March) to discuss the operationalisation of the Kartarpur Corridor, Indian officials revealed that Pakistan, despite promising visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, also wanted to issue back-door special permits on a paid basis, reports The Hindu.
India also lodged a strong objection with the Pakistani side on the reported encroachment of 100 acres of land belonging the Gurdwara in Kartarpur. The land had been originally donated in the 19th century by Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.
“Lands owned by the Kartarpur Gurdwara committee has been usurped by the government of Pakistan in name of developing the corridor. A strident demand was made by India for restoration of these lands to the Gurdwara,” an official stated.
A senior official said that in contrast to the media and government hype in Pakistan over the corridor, the actual Pakistani offer made at the meet was “farcical and mere tokenism.”
The Pakistani side has also restricted the duration of an agreement on the corridor to two years only.
Moreover, Pakistan has insisted that they will only accommodate 700 pilgrims a day, against the demand of 5,000 pilgrims made by India. The Pakistani delegation also did not agree to India’s demand that visits be allowed on a daily basis, saying they would only allow pilgrims on specified days.
Sikh groups have been strongly pushing both governments to build a corridor for pilgrims stretching from Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur on the Indian side to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur on the Pakistani side. The plan is to finish the project before 23 November 2019, which will mark the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev, whose final years were spent living in Kartarpur.