Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor, flagging off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims here, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in this Punjab district. Modi flagged off the first batch of pilgrims led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the corridor, which was thrown open days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12.
The prime minister inaugurated the passenger terminal building of the corridor on the Indian side, also known as the Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5 km-long corridor. India had signed an agreement with the neighbouring nation on October 24 on the modalities for operationalisation of the corridor at 'Zero Point' of the international boundary at Dera Baba Nanak. The first batch of pilgrims included Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab were also part of the 'jatha' (delegation). Before dedicating the corridor to the nation, Modi partook langar (community kitchen) along with Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar. Donning a saffron coloured turban (head gear), Modi watched a video on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. The prime minister was also shown a model of the Kartarpur corridor. At the time of flagging off the jatha, Modi met Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, and had a brief chat with him.
The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, with a design inspired by 'Khanda'- a symbol of faith in Sikh community, has been constructed on 15 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. It has all necessary public amenities such as kiosks, washrooms, child care and first-aid facilities, prayer rooms and snacks counters.
The project was executed by the central government agency Land Ports Authority of India. On November 22 last year, the Union Cabinet had passed a resolution to celebrate the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a "grand and befitting manner" throughout the country and across the globe. The Cabinet had also approved the building and development of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the international boundary to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib round the year in a smooth and easy manner.