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Kartarpur Corridor Agreement Hits Roadblock as Pakistan Insists on Charging Pilgrims 'Service Fee'

Indian and Pakistani officials during a meeting on Kartarpur Corridor.

Indian and Pakistani officials during a meeting on Kartarpur Corridor.

The two sides met on Wednesday for the third round of discussions to consult on and finalise the draft agreement for operationalistaion of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims.

New Delhi: The Kartarpur Corridor talks between India and Pakistan have hit a roadblock as Pakistan has reportedly insisted on charging pilgrims a ‘service fee’ for their visit to the shrine, sources aware of the development told News18.

The two sides met on Wednesday for the third round of discussions to consult on and finalise the draft agreement for operationalistaion of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims.

Reacting to the development, Union minister Harsimrat Badal said: “I’m shocked that Pakistan is making such a demand; they want to charge a community which wants to offer prayers." She added, “It’s evident that they are trying to create roadblocks, as the plan has been in the works for one-and-a-half years and only two months are left for the corridor to open.”

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The corridor will be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since Independence.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib -- the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev -- to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi River, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

The four-lane highway connecting the Zero Point of the Kartarpur Corridor up to National Highway-354 is being constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The corridor will be opened in November to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

first published:September 04, 2019, 13:51 IST