From November 9, Pakistan will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib, a senior official heading the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor project announced on September 16.
Project Director Atif Majid made the announcement during the maiden visit of Pakistani and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, amidst fresh tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Majid said so far 86 percent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened to pilgrims on November 9.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
Majid said some 76 immigration counters have been set up to cater to 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India every day. And for 10,000 pilgrims visiting here daily, 152 immigration counters will be set up. He said that initially 5,000 Sikhs from India will come daily and later the number will rise to 10,000.
Pakistan, however, repeatedly said that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor will not be hit by the current tension with India.
The visiting Indian Sikhs will have to bring their passports with them and they will be issued corridor pass. On return, they will receive their passports from immigration counter after returning the pass.
Airport-like facilities will be provided to the pilgrims who will come here by bus, he said. “Finger prints will be taken of every Indian and Pakistani Sikhs entering the Kartar Sahib,” he said.
The journalists were told that the visiting Sikh pilgrims will be provided free food and medicines by the Pakistan Gurdwara Sikh Parbhandik Committee.
The security of the corridor will be provided by provincial paramilitary forces Punjab Rangers.
During the last round of talks on the Kartarpur corridor held last week, Pakistan showed inflexibility and gave unfavourable responses on issues of charging a service fee, the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and allowing protocol officials to accompany them.
There were three issues on which the Indian side had asked Pakistan to show some flexibility — their insistence on charging USD 20 per pilgrim, allowing 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.
“We had hoped that all pending issues will be resolved. However we realised that Pakistan was quite inflexible during the talks,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
Anyone who harms ongoing peace process in J&K will be jailed: Ram Madhav
Srinagar, Oct 20: With the abrogation of article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is treading on the path of peace and development and anyone who tries to create hurdles in the way will be dealt with sternly, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said here on Sunday.
“Till now everything used to be done for a few families or a few leaders in Kashmir, but now whatever is happening, is happening for lakhs of families of this state… for the common Kashmiri,” Madhav said.
“There will now be only two paths for J&K– peace and development and whosoever comes in between will be dealt with sternly. There are many jails in India for those,” he added.
The BJP leader was addressing a convention of the party”s youth wing at Tagore Hall here which was the first political event in Kashmir after the abrogation of article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union territories.
Asking politicians not to treat the people of Jammu and Kashmir as fodder for their politics, Madhav who visited the valley for the first time since the abrogation of article 370 said if 200-300 people are to be kept inside jails to achieve the path to peace and development, “then we will keep them”.
“You can do your politics without disturbing the peace. Some leaders are sending messages while sitting inside jails that people will take to gun and sacrifice themselves. I want to tell those leaders to come forward first and sacrifice themselves,” he said.
“Politicians here were making common people a fodder for their politics and the general public was being used. But, we will not allow such politics now. We want politics of development and corruptions will be eradicated fully from here,” he added.
Wanting to assure the people of Kashmir on the apprehensions about losing jobs or land, the BJP national general secretary said no step would be taken against the interests of the people.
“Some people are talking nonsense about job losses and losing land with the abrogation of article 370. No step will be taken against your interests. Each job in the state will be provided to the youth of the state.”
“I will not hesitate by telling you that the Centre is ready and new jobs and opportunities will be created here. All precautions will be taken so that the there is no harm on the identity, culture, jobs and education of J&K,” he said.
The abrogation of article 370 is a new opportunity and a new dawn for Jammu and Kashmir, Madhav said as he asked the people not be afraid of anyone and go about their business.
“Your hands and feet were fettered for the last 70 years and now we have freed you…. Do not be afraid of anyone and go on with your business,” he said.
“What are you afraid of when everyone is afraid of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. They are paper tigers and I know how much courage they have. They shiver when they get a phone call,” Added Madhav without naming anyone.
Taking a dig at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the BJP leader said he does not know how to handle his country but talks of Kashmir every now and then.
“Imran Khan rakes up Kashmir once or twice a day. He does not know how to handle his country and was merely saved from FATF sanctions. Our security forces are alert and prepared to handle whatever attempts he makes whether cross-border firing or militancy,” he said.
The BJP national general secretary said the people of the country were ready to embrace Kashmiris and they should maintain peace.
“Wherever I go, I say that whatever had to be done for Kashmir has been done by Modi and now the people of whole India have to embrace Kashmiris. When we in BJP used to say that Kashmir is ours, it did not mean that the land of Kashmir is ours but that every Kashmiri is ours. The whole India is ready to assure you of that.”
“When there is peace, tourism will increase here. I say this to people everywhere that if you have to go on a holiday, then visit Kashmir. The whole country is ready to embrace Kashmir and the people of J-K only need to decide to welcome them and maintain peace here,” he said.
Over 380 Ladakh police personnel in J&K to be transferred to native state
0New Delhi: Over 380 police personnel belonging to Ladakh and working in different places in Kashmir and Jammu regions will soon be transferred to their native state and posted under the administrative control of the new Union Territory, officials said Sunday. The new Union Territory of Ladakh will come into existence, October 31.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has given nod for the transfer of police personnel working in different wings of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
“Approval has been given for the transfers of about 385 Ladakhi-origin police personnel to Ladakh and they will function under the new UT which will come into existence October 31,” a ministry official said.
The police personnel will work with the Ladakh UT Police, which will be under the direct control of the MHA.
The police personnel – from the rank of constable to inspector – will also get the pay and perks available to police personnel of other UTs like Chandigarh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Police and law and order in the UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the Lieutenant Governor, through whom the Central Government will administer the high altitude region.
According to ‘The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019’, will not have a Legislative Assembly.
The Act says cadres of IAS and IPS for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on and from the appointed day (October 31), shall continue to function on existing cadres.
However, in future, the all India service officers to be posted to UTs of Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh shall be from the Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territory cadre, more popularly known as UT cadre.
3 militants killed in Anantnag gunfight
SRINAGAR: Three militants were killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district, officials said.
The encounter broke out at Pazalpora area in Anantnag on a specific intelligence provided by the district police.