In a major relief to Sikh devotees visiting Pakistan for the celebrations of the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev, Islamabad on Friday (1 November) announced the waiving of the requirement of a passport for identification and prior registration for such visitors.
It also exempted the Sikh pilgrims from India from paying a $20 entry fee on the day of the inauguration of the corridor and Guru Nanak Dev's birthday, as reported by NDTV.
For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they wont need a passport - just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on day of inauguration & on Guruji's 550th birthday— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 1, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 and dispatch the first lot of pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan's Punjab province on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev that falls on November 12.
Reacting to the announcement, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the waiver should be extended to not just "Sikhs but all citizens of secular India".
Also, he demanded that the fee should be waived off on "all days instead of just two".
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is a highly revered Sikh shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
Earlier, India and Pakistan signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian pilgrims a visa-free visit to the holy Darbar Sahib. However, the ticklish issue of a $20 service fee imposed by Islamabad remained unresolved.
India signed the deal in the interest of the pilgrims and timely operationalisation of the Kartarpur Corridor before the celebrations.
(with IANS inputs)