It’s been one year since the Kartarpur Sahib corridor was closed by it citing pandemic situation, the Indian Government is adamant to not reopen it hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community.
To commemorate 550th Parkash Gurpurb (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Sahib, Pakistan government opened a corridor in November, 2019 for the followers of Guru Nanak, who are based in Indian union, to provide them visa-free access to the historic gurdwara. The corridor links the Gurdwara which is four kms away from India-Pakistan international border in Pakistan territory, to historic Sikh town Dera Baba Nanak which is situated along the border in the territory administered by India.
In view of the Covid-19 outbreak that has engulfed the entire world, the home ministry of India suspended the pilgrimage through the corridor from March 16 last year. On the other hand, all the worship places including Kartarpur Sahib had been 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.
On October 2 last year, Pakistan government decided to reopen Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib, for all kinds of people including local visitors.
Even after the completion of one year, Indian government is giving no indication to lift the suspension, despite requests made by Sikh leaders including Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC-appointed acting jathedar of highest Sikh temporal seat, Akal Takht, and heads of other Sikh organizations.
In September last year, Jot Jot Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Sahib was observed at Kartarpur Sahib by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) on large scale from September 20 to 22 first time after opening of the corridor. The PSGPC had requested the Indian government to allow the devotees living in India to take part in the ceremonies held to observe the gurpurb, but the request was not considered.
Of late, Indian Government denied the Sikh jatha permission to go to Pakistan to attend the centenary event of Nankana Sahib Massacre. This act has once again shown the Sikhs their place here.
While denying the permission, the government cited unreasonable “reasons”. It made two excuses—one is safety concern of the jatha members in Pakistan and second is Covid-19 outbreak. Both the reasons were considered ridiculous as a jatha smoothly visited Pakistan in the month of November last year to celebrate Parkash Gurpurb (birth anniversary) of Sikhi’s founder Guru Nanak Sahib. Secondly, the pandemic no longer remained a serious threat in South Asia. All the worship places are open for devotees.
p style=”font-weight: 400;”>Keeping the corridor closed is irritating the Sikhs across the world as they are being deprived of visiting their holy shrine. The Indian government is turning blind eyes towards their genuine appeals.