Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday laid the foundation stone for a corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims. The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months.
India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back. The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.
After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.
Where is Kartarpur?
This small town is located in Pakistan, in Narowal District, Punjab. A part of pre-independence Punjab of colonised India, the town’s population has a Muslim majority. Hindus and Sikhs in the town are said to have migrated to India after partition while many Muslim refugees from India settled down there after 1947. Kartarpur was established by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, in the 16th century.
Who is Guru Nanak?
Guru Nanak founded the faith of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh gurus. It is his words and teachings that are documented in the holy text of Sikhism, called the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs believe that his spirit carried on within his successors, the nine gurus who formed important tenets of the religion itself.
What is Kartarpur’s significance to Sikhs?
Kartarpur, in present day Pakistan, is believed to be the place that Guru Nanak passed away in 1539. He lived there for 18 years before his death. It is also where the first ever gurudwara was built – Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. Guru Nanak was also born in a town in present-day Pakistan – Nankana Sahib, Punjab.
Kartarpur – between India and Pakistan
The holy Sikh site is just 3 kms from the India-Pak border. Since Indians need visas to enter Punjab and it is a stringent process to get one – pilgrims from India gather in large numbers on high grounds such as hills on the Indian side of the border to perform darshan, or sacred viewing of the gurudwara itself.
With inputs from PTI