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Kartarpur Corridor Should Be Accessible for OCI Card Holders, Suggests Canadian High Commissioner in India

The issue has been a point of divergence between India and Pakistan as the two sides are working to operationalise the corridor in time for the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, in November.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:July 4, 2019, 3:23 PM IST
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Kartarpur Corridor Should Be Accessible for OCI Card Holders, Suggests Canadian High Commissioner in India
Sikh pilgrims visit the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. (AP Photo/KM Chaudary)
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New Delhi: Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi Nadir Patel has backed India’s demand for allowing people of Indian origin with OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cards to be able to access the Kartarpur Corridor.

The issue has been a point of divergence between India and Pakistan as the two sides are working to operationalise the corridor in time for the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, in November.

The High Commissioner told News18, “The corridor-opening to allow this pilgrimage is important and from my perspective, something like that should not be limited by geography. It’s related to faith, related to pilgrimage so it should be made available.”

According to the Indian High Commission (Ottawa) website, Canada hosts one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world — numbering 16 lakh — which accounts for more than three per cent of its total population. Among the Indian diaspora, the Sikh community accounts for about five lakh people.

A source though indicated that there has been no official representation from the Canadian Sikh community in this regard. India had proposed to Pakistan to not only allow Sikhs but all Indians irrespective of their faith to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Narowal, Pakistan, through the dedicated corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. It had also proposed that OCI card holders should be allowed. Pakistan has not agreed to this proposal so far though the movement of Indians irrespective of religion has been agreed upon.

It is also interesting to note that the official talks with Pakistan slated for April 2 this year to work out the modalities to operationalise the corridor were called off by India over serious concerns regarding pro-Khalistani elements being part of the Pakistani Kartarpur committee. Sources said objectionable entities such as Gopal Singh Chawla, Tara Singh, Maninder Singh, Besant Singh and Kuljeet Singh were part of the 10-member Pakistani committee.

However, last week India proposed a fresh window of dates and the meeting is now slated for July 14 on the Pakistani side of the Wagah-Attari border. There is no clarity, however, if Pakistan has addressed India’s concerns. Sources merely said the fact that India was willing to work out the modalities shows its commitment to the corridor.

Ironically, the Khalistani issue has also created some amount of discomfort in India-Canada relations as well over the last few years. India has been expressing concern over pro-Khalistani elements once again being active in Canada and the government being soft on them due to political considerations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit in February 2018 was engulfed in controversy when convicted Khalistani Jaspal Atwal’s pictures with Trudeau’s wife at a Mumbai event went viral.

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