NEW DELHI/GURDASPUR: In a historic moment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan on the western border along Punjab state on Saturday, seeing off the first batch of over 500 mostly Sikh Indian pilgrims to the Pakistani side. The first batch of pilgrims was led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the corridor.
The opening came days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, on November 12. The high-security, well-protected corridor, is 4.5km long, and pilgrims will have to return to India the same day. The first batch of pilgrims included Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Marking the occasion, Prime Minister Modi thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for “understanding the sentiments of India” and facilitating the corridor opening. The Kartarpur Corridor will allow Sikh pilgrims to travel to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, a sacred spot where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 15 years of his life.
The event was planned in such a way that PM Modi inaugurated the corridor three days before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Among the first group of 550 pilgrims who travelled to Kartarpur were former PM Manmohan Singh, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal and actor-politician Sunny Deol.
At the other end, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the corridor. He did so by removing a curtain, that was then lifted to the air by hot air balloons. “I was not aware of the importance of the Kartarpur till a year ago,” Imran Khan was quoted in a report as telling a gathering of over 12,000 devotees, including Manmohan Singh and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.
“Today we are not only opening the border, but also our hearts for the Sikh community,” Imran Khan was quoted in the report as saying. —IHN-NN
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