New Delhi: India on Saturday asserted that any final decision to ‘re-open’ the Kartarpur corridor that was suspended following Covid19 would be taken in “accordance with the COVID Protocol and easing of restrictions”.
Answering media queries on the matter, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said: “As you are aware, the movement was suspended in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak. We remain in touch with all concerned authorities, including Ministries of Home Affairs and Health and Family Welfare. A decision on re-opening of the corridor would be taken following the COVID Protocol and easing of restrictions”.
The spokesman also sought to add and clarify that at the time of opening of the Kartarpur corridor last year and in the bilateral agreement signed in October 2019, “it was decided that both sides shall establish requisite infrastructure including construction of a bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel at the earliest for safe and hassle-free movement of pilgrims”.
In this context, he said there was “no progress” on the part of Pakistan.
“One year hence, Pakistan is yet to construct the bridge while it is ready at our end. A technical meeting with Pakistan was also facilitated, and two teams met on August 27, 2020. There is, however, no progress on the part of Pakistan,” the spokesman added.
Reports from Pakistan said, the Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs on Friday announced that the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on its side has been ‘re-opened’ as the COVID-19 situation in the country has improved.
As per the notification, Indian visitors have been allowed to come daily from dawn to dusk as per the bilateral agreement inked between two countries.
The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in 1999 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, the two Prime Ministers as part of the Delhi–Lahore Bus diplomacy.
On November 26 2018, the foundation stone was laid down on the Indian side; two days later, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan did the same for the Pakistani side on November 28 2018.
The corridor was completed for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last year compared the decision by the two countries to go ahead with the corridor to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Previously, Sikh pilgrims from India had to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125 kilometres journey.
Prime Minister Modi on November 9, 2019, inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor from the Indian side and also flagged off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims.