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Sikhs to petition Pakistan, India PMs for visa-free corridor to place of Nanak’s death

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Yudhvir Rana, TNN | Mar 21, 2013, 12.11 AM IST

DERA BABA NANAK (GURDASPUR): Thousands of Sikhs in Punjab are petitioning the prime ministers of India and Pakistan in an attempt to fulfill their dream of visiting theGurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. Kartarpur is the place where Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, is believed to have breathed his last.

The construction of a corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of India and Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan— a distance of about 4 kilometers from the Indo-Pak international border — has been on the wishlist of Indian Sikh organizations for a long time.

With the corridor in place, pilgrims hope to cover the distance from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib on foot and return the same day without taking a visa. However, the recent tension in Indo-Pak relations has dashed their hopes after New Delhi in January postponed implementation of a liberal visa policy with Islamabad.

This has prompted many Sikh organizations to form a delegation that will approach the prime ministers of the two countries to convince them of the significance of the corridor for Sikhs.

"Let the governments of both countries solve contentious issues through diplomatic channels but the these issues should not cast a shadow on faith," says BS Goraya, president of Sangat Langha Kartarpur. Goraya has been running a campaign for the construction of the corridor since 1994. Even though there have been many assurances in the past, he says, nothing concrete has happened.

Incidentally, President Pranab Mukherjee had also visited Dera Baba Nanak in 2008 when he was the external affairs minister and had said that the construction of a corridor would be a confidence building measure between the two nations. Now, Sikh organizations are hoping thatManmohan Singh and Raja Pervez Ashraf agree to their wishes and make their long-standing dream comes true.

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