SGPC to Centre: Include ‘Corridor Issue’ in talks with Pakistan


Amritsar, May 21, 2008

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) has asked the Central Government to include the Gurdwara Kartarpur Corridor issue in the agenda of the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposed visit to Pakistan.

According to the SGPC, the largest and oldest body of the Sikhs, it has already given several memorandums to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to treat the issue as priority in view of the Sikh diaspora’s sentiments.

Before conducting the Prime Minister level meet between India and Pakistan, the two neighbours are holding foreign minister level talks on May 21.

Talking to ANI Avtar Singh Makkar, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee president, said it was the SGPC’s long pending demand to seek a safe passage to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from Dera Baba Nanak.

“We feel that such a gesture would help in strengthening confidence-building exercise between India and Pakistan. Besides taking up the corridor issue, we would like to urge, the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to ask the Pakistani Government to allot the function of "Kar seva" to the SGPC of all Gurdwaras in Pakistan".

Makkar said that during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Singh to Amritsar, last year, he was urged to provide a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib. We were given assurance but nothing realistic was done so far in the matter,” he added.

The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in situated in the Pakistan’s Narowal District and is nearly two kilometers from Dera Baba Nanak, a border town of Punjab.

Guru Nanak Dev spent last more than 17 years of his life at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.

Once the corridor is created, pilgrims can walk up to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib and make the return journey on the same day.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pritpal Singh, the convener of the American Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC), told ANI over phone from the U.S., that Pakistan has in principle agreed to provide unrestricted passage to Indian devotees without a passport or a visa, and adds that the ball is in the Indian Court.

Sikhs want a religious corridor from Dera Baba Nanak (in the Indian Punjab) to Kartarpur Sahib (in the Pakistani side).

Kartarpur is viewed as a perfect illustration of the subcontinent’s pluralist culture, as when Guru Nanak Dev passed away at Kartarpur (in 1539), both Hindus and Muslims laid claim to his body.

Ultimately, it was decided that overnight, flowers would be placed by both Hindus and Muslims on his body. Whoever’s flowers withered next morning, it would lose claim.

The next morning when the cloth was removed, the body was missing and flowers of both communities were found in the same shape as they had been put in. The two communities finally decided to divide the cloth, and the Muslims buried it while the Hindus consigned it to fire. Therefore, both a grave and a mausoleum exist here.