LAHORE, Pakistan—As Joti Jot Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Sahib, founder of the Sikh faith, is being observed from September 20 to 22 at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib, in Pakistan first time after the opening of the corridor, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) on Wednesday (August 26, 2020) urged the Indian government to allow the Sikhs living in India to make their presence there on the occasion using the corridor.
Briefing about the proceedings of the meeting held here in presence of the representatives of Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), the PSPGC president Satwant Singh said, “The PSGPC along with the Pakistan government is going to observe the Gurpurb with religious farvour and devotion. We would like to make an appeal to the Indian government to allow the Indian pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib on the pious occasion from September 20 to 22.”
“We will be very happy if Indian government allows the Sikhs to be part of marking the Gurpurb because the followers of the Guru Nanak Sahib in India had to wait for seven decades for having easy access to the final resting place of the first Guru and his Joti Jot Gurpurb is being observed first after the opening of the corridor,” he said.
The corridor, which is visa-free access for visiting one of the major Sikh shrines in the world and a long pending demand of the Sikhs, was opened in November last year on 550th Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Sahib.
Satwant Singh further said, “We also want hazoori ragis of Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, to perform kirtan in the samagams (functions) to be organized at Kartarpur Sahib from September 20 to 22. We expect a minimum of 5,000 pilgrims to attend these functions daily. I hope the Indian government will allow the Sikhs to do so.”
“Not only the Pakistan government, the Indian government has also contributed to the successful opening of the corridor. It can remain open only if both governments cooperate with each other. Allowing the Indian devotees to visit the shrine on Joti Jot Diwas will disseminate a good message,” said another member from the stage.
In view of the COVID-19 outbreak that has engulfed the entire world, the office of the Union Home Minister of India suspended the pilgrimage through the corridor from March 16 this year. The Indian government had also suspended movement of all passengers through international border points with Pakistan.
On the other hand, all the worship places including Kartarpur Sahib were closed to the public in Pakistan as well due to the outbreak. After more than three months, the Pakistan government offered to reopen the corridor on June 29, 2020, the occasion of the death anniversary of Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, conveyed to the Indian side their readiness to reopen the corridor, through a tweet on 27 June.
It’s been two months since the corridor was opened however the Indian government has not lifted the suspension yet, despite requests made by Sikh leaders including Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC-appointed acting Jathedar of the highest Sikh temporal seat, Akal Takht Sahib, and SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal.
The corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab with Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.