The American Sikh community has thanked India prime minister Narendra Modi for realising the “long-cherished dream” of Sikhs by opening the Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on November 26 laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor which is expected to be completed within six months.
The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of the Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
It will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, established in 1522 by Guru Nanak.
“We the Sikh diaspora are thankful to Narendra Modi and his government for realising the long-cherished dream of Sikhs in India and abroad and laying the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor on November 26, 2018,” said the Sikhs of America organisation.
“Since the foundation stone was laid on the Pakistan side also, Sikhs across the globe are looking forward to the much-anticipated pilgrimage,” it said in a resolution addressed to the prime minister.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor on November 28.
A copy of the resolution was presented to senior officials of the Indian embassy here at an event organised by the Sikhs of America in the Maryland suburb of Washington.
“For the last few months, good news has been coming for the Sikh community in India and abroad,” Jasdip Singh chairman of Sikhs of America said as he praised the role of the Indian government in bringing to justice some of the accused involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
“We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. However, there is lot to be done,” Singh said, hoping that in the coming months others involved in the riots would also be brought to justice.
He said the government had addressed most of their concerns including removal of some Sikhs from the visa blacklist.
Last month, prime minister Modi invoked the fall of the Berlin Wall and hoped the Kartarpur corridor would act as a bridge between India and Pakistan.
“Had anyone ever thought that the Berlin Wall would fall. May be with the blessings of Guru Nanak Devji, this Kartarpur corridor will not just remain a corridor, but act as a bridge between the people of the two countries,” Modi said at a function to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Kartarpur Sahib is located across Ravi river in Pakistan and is about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
The demand to build a corridor linking India’s border district of Gurdaspur with a historic gurudwara in Pakistan was a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.