The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has extended an official invitation to Bibi Jagir Kaur, President of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) as well as Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
Speaking to the media on Monday, the PSGPC president Satwant Singh confirmed the news about the invitation and added that he hoped that this gesture will encourage India to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Citizens.
PSGPC demanded Reopening of Kartarpur Corridor pic.twitter.com/ksQswmz0WX
— Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (@parbhandak) July 9, 2021
Upon receiving the invitation, the President of SGPC Bibi Jagir Kaur has expressed her deep gratitude and stated that she is hopeful that God will fulfill the spiritual aspirations of the Sikhs in near future. She has also demanded from the Indian authorities to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor.
Why is it closed?
The corridor was closed in March 2020 amidst Covid-19 lockdowns in both India and Pakistan. However, even after Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs announced in October 2020 that the corridor would be opened, India made it clear that it would not be sending the pilgrims across the border anytime soon.
India has also previously accused Pakistan of not keeping their side of the bargain in terms of building infrastructure between the two borders. A key part of the connection is a bridge that needs to be constructed across the Budd Ravi Channel as the waters rise alarmingly high during monsoon season.
In the bilateral agreement signed in October 2019, Pakistan had committed to build the bridge however it is yet to be completed.
In December 2020, Former Union minister of India Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also raised the issue to the External Affairs Ministry, saying that Sikhs have been pained at not being able to visit the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev on his 551st birth anniversary. Miss Kaur also said that she has failed to get a satisfactory response from the Ministry as to why the corridor is still closed.
Now that GoI has opened all religious sites for pilgrims, I once again urge it to open #KartarpurCorridor which has been closed since 16 months. Why this bias against Sikh community? Punjab CM @capt_amarinder, who should have pursued the matter, is busy trying to save his chair. pic.twitter.com/52aPAyVYYq
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) July 8, 2021
She said that the Sikh community is hopeful that the corridor will be opened soon as devotees want to pay their respect and perform religious practices at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
The significance of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib
Pakistan is also eager to open the corridor as a lot of people have their jobs associated with it. On average, every Indian is levied $20 from the Pakistani Authorities as a service price for visiting the Gurdwara.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa-free border corridor between the borders of India and Pakistan. It was inaugurated in November 2019 on the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak. On the occasion, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that Pakistan has opened its hearts and border for the Sikhs as the only road to prosperity of the coming generation lies in peace.
This place holds special significance for Sikhs as Baba Guru Nanak was the first guru of Sikhism and established the first Sikh commune in Kartarpur in 1504 CE.