Kartarpur Corridor opens today: First batch of 550 set to cross the border

Kanchan Vasdev
Security personnel inspect the ‘Holy Bai’ along Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay obeisance Saturday before proceeding to inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor at Dera Baba Nanak. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday flag off the first batch of more than 550 Indian pilgrims, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, that will travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province through the Kartarpur Corridor, which is being thrown open to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

While Pakistan will formally inaugurate the Corridor on their side after a function starting at 11 am Pakistan time (11.30am IST), Modi would flag off the jatha at 12:30 pm IST.

PM Modi will land at Amritsar airport at 8:30 am from where he will take a helicopter to Sultanpur Lodhi. He would be paying obeisance at the Gurdwara Ber Sahib before proceeding to Dera Baba Nanak where he will address a public gathering before flagging off the Jatha. He will be inaugurating the passenger terminal building, also known as Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5 km-long Corridor.

The Corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib — also called Kartarpur Sahib — the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, in Narowal district in Pakistan.

Besides former PM and Punjab CM, the first batch of pilgrims include Akal Takht jathedar Harpreet Singh, former CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, his Union minister wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her brother Bikramn Majithia. Punjab CM’s wife and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, and their daughter Jayinder Kaur are also part of the jatha. SGPC members and all the 117 MLAs and 13 MPs are also part of the ‘jatha’.

While the Punjab government had earlier said that Amarinder would be leading the Jatha, Harsimrat Badal tweeted that the Centre has picked Akal Takth Sahib Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh as the leader of first Indian delegation.

“The NDA govt has honoured sentiments of Sikh Sangat by declaring Sri Akal Takth Sahib Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh Ji as leader of the first Indian delegation visiting Pakistan through #KartarpurCorridor on Nov 9. The decision is welcomed by #Sikhs worldwide,” she said in a tweet.

Punjab Minister Tript Rajinder Singh said that all members of first batch have been asked to reach by 10 am.
The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, its design inspired by ‘Khanda’ which a symbol of faith in Sikh community, has been constructed on 18 acres of land. The fully air-conditioned building, akin to an airport, has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5,000 pilgrims a day. The project was executed by central government agency — Land Ports Authority of India.