Visa-free travel to Kartarpur gets Pak nod

Joint Secretary of Indian Home Ministry SCL Das (C), Ministry of External Affairs joint Secretary Deepak Mittal (R) and Punjab Government PWD Secretary Hussan Lal (L) return to India after attending a meeting with their counterparts on the issue of Kartar

Pakistan has agreed to allow visa-free travel to Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara for Indian passport holders and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders seven days a week.

Throughout the year, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur per day, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Sunday following second round of discussions between both the sides in Wagah on the Pakistani side of the border.

The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot.

Pakistan has also agreed, in principle, to build a bridge on their side for safe movement of pilgrims and to address concerns regarding flooding.

India also conveyed to Pakistan its concerns on possible attempts by individuals and organisations to disrupt the pilgrimage, prompting Islamabad to assure that it will not allow any anti-India activity.

During the meeting, the importance for ensuring safe environment for the pilgrims was underscored.

“A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side to highlight concerns in the matter. The Indian delegation has also sought consular presence in Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara to be able to provide assistance to the pilgrims, if required. Pakistan side assured our delegation that no anti-India activity would be allowed,” an official statement said.

During the meeting, the statement said, the Indian side also conveyed concerns regarding the possible flooding of the Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas on the Indian side as a result of earth filled embankment road or a causeway that is proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side.

“It was clearly conveyed that an earth-filled embankment or a causeway will create problems for our people and should not be built even in the interim. Details of the bridge that India is building on its side were shared, and Pakistan side was urged to also build a bridge on their side. Pakistan side agreed, in principle, to build a bridge at the earliest,” it said.

In November last year, both the countries had decided to develop a corridor connecting Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to help Sikh pilgrims visit the holy shrine of Guru Nanak in Kartarpur.

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