No passport needed for Sikhs visiting Kartarpur Sahib: Pakistan

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur Photo by Indira Prahst

Chandigarh (IANS): In a major relief to Sikh devotees visiting Pakistan for the celebrations of the 550th Prakash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev, Islamabad on Friday announced the waiving of requirement of a passport for identification and prior registration for such visitors.

It also exempted the Indian pilgrims from paying a $20 entry fee on the day of inauguration of the corridor and Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday.

“For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they won’t need a passport — just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.

“Also, no fee will be charged on day of inauguration and on Guruji’s 550th birthday,” he added.

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 operation of the Kartarpur Corridor before the celebrations.