Chandigarh: With only a few pilgrims taking the Kartarpur Corridor to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the SGPC on Wednesday blamed the online registration process for the low turnout, asserting that the procedure should be simplified.
The apex gurdwara body also suggested that the Centre authorise it to carry out necessary formalities as part of the measures to simplify the process.
In the first three days after a grand opening by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9, just 897 devotees visited Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor.
An immigration official said 229 pilgrims visited on November 10, 122 on November 11 and 546 on November 12.
People feel a lack of awareness about the online registration process, requirement of passport and a service fee being charged by Pakistan are to be blamed for the dismal number. "The online system of registration of pilgrims is a complicated process for common people. It is very difficult for them to follow it," Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief secretary Roop Singh told PTI on Wednesday.
Asserting that the process should be simplified, Singh suggested that the pilgrims be allowed to visit Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur -- the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev -- on the basis of their passports. "Pilgrim should be issued a permit to visit the Sikh shrine after seeing his/her passport. The passports can also be deposited," said Singh.
He said people were keen to visit Kartarpur Sahib but the online system was turning out to be one of the reasons behind the low turnout. "The Centre can also authorise the SGPC for the collection of passports of pilgrims and other formalities," Singh said.
The SGPC chief secretary pointed out that the apex gurdwara body had been sending 'jathas' (group of pilgrims) to Pakistan for four times a year, including on the occasion of Guru Nanak Dev's birth anniversary and the Baisakhi festival.
During this process, the SGPC collects passports from pilgrims and deposits it with the Pakistan High Commission. After visas are issued, the SGPC sends pilgrims to Pakistan.
As per the present system for visiting Kartarpur, a pilgrim, who needs to have a passport, has to get himself registered on prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in.
Pilgrims are informed through an SMS and an email about the confirmation of the registration three to four days before the date of travel.
An Electronic Travel Authorization is generated and intimation is given to the pilgrim through SMS. Pilgrims are required to carry a printout of ETA along with their passport.
Meanwhile, at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, several pilgrims who do not have passports but wished to visit Darbar Sahib in Pakistan feel dejected over not being able to cross over.
"We came here to visit Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur but we were not allowed. We did not know that passport is required to go to the historic gurdwara. Proper information about the entire process and requirement of passport should be disseminated so people should not feel harassed," said an elderly man.
There has been a huge rush of people at the 'Darshan Asthal', a raised platform with binoculars installed near the Zero Line in Dera Baba Nanak to catch a glimpse of gurdwara in Kartarpur in Pakistan.