The corridor of dreams has been open for some time now, the Kartarpur corridor allows 5000 pilgrims from India each day meanwhile thousands are still being rejected for the pilgrimage.
The Kartarpur Corridor opened on November 9, however thousands of Sikh pilgrims are still doing ‘darshans’ of the holy Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara by standing at the zero line village Dera Baba Nanak in India. There is a long list of pilgrims who are rejected for the pilgrimage each day. Meanwhile, Indian media claims that Sikhs are able to go to Pakistan to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara because of the passport per-requisite for entry. Sources state that everyday, only 300 pilgrims on average are accepted for the pilgrimage out of the 5000. Indian government claims that Pakistan is responsible for the rejections; where as Pakistani government denies the claim. In between this new blaming game, the pilgrims have no other option except resorting to seeing the Gurdwara Sahib from the ‘viewpoint’ in India, the place from where they looked at the Sikh shrine from the past seven decades.
Hue and cry was raised by India when the Pakistan government put a meager $20 (Dollar) free per pilgrim. The fee, which is equivalent to 1,439.INR (Indian Ruppee) is by no means out of reach when planning a pilgrimage. Muslims from Pakistan pay a sum of $100 for their pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Indian Politicians have gone above and beyond to prevent Pakistan from receiving $20 per pilgrim, for fear that Pakistan might use it for ‘terrorist activities’. It is mildly entertaining to see how Indian media is trying to demonize a meek sum being received by Pakistan for maintaining the Kartarpur Shahib corridor.
To put it into simpler terms, Pakistan has built the corridor for the welfare of people coming from India and Indians are demanding that Pakistan should spend money over a corridor that was created for them only. The $20 fee implemented by Pakistan is a cause for concern for Indian government because of the potential profit Pakistan would gain from this exchange. While Pakistan indeed is receiving the fee, it is important to point out that the construction and maintenance for a religious site does not come cheap.
A year ago, the Kartarpur Sahib wasn’t nearly as vast as it is now. Land was given to the Sikh populace managing Kartarpur for agriculture and other areas of the Darbar. The Darbar also takes care of the food and accommodation needs of the pilgrims. The Darbar feeds as many as 3000 people each day. Pakistan’s journey has not been a smooth sailing and it has been suffering from bad economy for a few years now. Things have indeed improved since the last 6 years, but it is just not fair to expect a country to pay for services being used by another country.
Thus Pakistan soliciting a meek $20 dollars for all the services is not that farfetched if we further add security, transportation, accommodation and food against the fee.
“We have been praying every day that the Gurdwaras in Pakistan be opened for the pilgrims. Today, this dream has been fulfilled. I had taken a vow that I will pay a visit to Darbar Sahib as and when the corridor is opened. I have already got myself registered for the pilgrimage,” Sudarshan Singh, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, said. He also said that the $20 entry fee levied by Pakistan is bearable.
It is really important to note that Pakistan is losing $20 per pilgrim and there is no reason for Pakistan wanting to earn less after spending a decent sum on the corridor. Whereas India has something to gain if less people make it to Kartarpur.
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17 November, 2019