"Mirage Of Goodwill": India On Pak Plan To Reopen Kartarpur Amid COVID-19

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 India On Pak Plan To Reopen Kartarpur Amid COVID-19

4.5 km-long corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur

New Delhi:

India has raised questions on a proposal from Pakistan to reopen cross-border movement to the famous Sikh pilgrimage site at Kartarpur, people with direct knowledge of the matter told NDTV.

"Cross border travel has been temporarily suspended as part of measures to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus. Further view would be taken in consultation with health authorities and other stakeholders concerned," a government source said, asking not to be identified.

Sources said Pakistan has been trying to "create a mirage of goodwill" by proposing to resume the Kartarpur pilgrimage from June 29 with a short notice of two days.

But the bilateral agreement provides for travel information to be shared by India with Pakistan at least seven days before the date of travel, they said. The normal way is to open the registration process well in advance.

Besides, Pakistan has not built a critical bridge on their side across the floodplains of Ravi river despite having committed to it in the bilateral agreement, sources said.

It would also need to be seen whether pilgrim movement is possible and safe through the corridor during monsoon, sources said. In 2013, when the area was flooded, it had caused great damage to people in Punjab's Gurdaspur.

The 4.5 km-long corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, a small town about 4 km from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province. It is the place where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak is believed to have spent the last 18 years of his life.

Pakistan in July last year agreed in-principle to build a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur corridor to provide all-weather connectivity. India had started work on a bridge on the zero line; Pakistan, however, had insisted on constructing a causeway, which India believes would act as a barrier, directing more floodwater towards India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor on November 9 last year when on the same day the first batch of Sikh pilgrims left for the shrine of Guru Nanak in Pakistan.

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