Kartarpur: Allow 5k pilgrims everyday, India says

NEW DELHI: The second round of talks with Pakistan on the modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was held at Wagah, Pakistan on Sunday.
During the discussion, India made several proposals for the facilitation of hassle-free journey of pilgrims on the corridor, including granting access to 5,000 pilgrims per day and 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions.
During the meeting, both the sides agreed on the ‘crossing point’/zero point’ coordinates that were agreed to at the technical level.
India also raised concerns over the possibility of flooding of the Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas on the Indian side as a result of earth filled embankment road or a causeway that is proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side. Indian authorities urged Islamabad to build a bridge, similar to the one being built on the Indian side, instead of the causeway.
During the meeting, Delhi made several requests to enable a smooth, easy, unrestricted access throughout the year. In this context, the following requests were reiterated:
* 5,000 pilgrims should be allowed to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor every day given the expected high demand on our side;
* 10,000 additional pilgrims should be allowed to visit on special occasions;
* There should be no restrictions on the pilgrims in terms of their faith;
* Not only Indian nationals but also the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) holding OCI cards be allowed to use the Kartarpur Corridor facility;
* The movement should be visa-free and Pakistan should reconsider charging any fee or introducing any permit system;
* Pilgrims should be allowed to visit throughout the year, seven days a week;
* Pilgrims should have the choice to visit as individuals or in a group;
* Pilgrims should have the choice to visit on-foot on pilgrimage to the holy shrine;
* Provisions should be made for the preparation and distribution of langar and ‘prasad’ for the pilgrims.
On the issue of security, the government raised concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims were shared. To which, Pakistan assured that no ‘anti-India’ activity would be allowed on its side of the corridor.
The Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, joint secretary, ministry of home affairs and comprised of representatives from the ministry of home affairs, ministry of external affairs, ministry of defence, the government of Punjab and the National Highway Authorities of India.
On the Indian side, rapid progress in developing infrastructure has been made, including a passenger terminal with a capacity to handle 15,000 pilgrims in a day.
The work on the 4-lane highway to the crossing point at the International Boundary is also underway and is likely to be completed by end September 2019. The government is fully confident that India would be ready to commence the pilgrimage through Kartarpur corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji.
In the end, both the sides agreed to maintain a channel of communication and work towards finalisation of the agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. The technical teams would meet again to ensure seamless connectivity for the Kartarpur corridor is operational in time so that the pilgrimage can begin in November 2019.

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