KARTARPUR (PAKISTAN): It was a spiritual, rather than a political journey for people and politicians who joined the first Jatha of 562 pilgrims led by Akal Takht Jathedar Harpreet Singh to the holy site of Kartarpur in Pakistan, willing spiritual release.
There were politicians of all hues, simple workers, and NRI’s too. Yet, while the pilgrimage was liberating, the arrangements on the Indian side left much to be desired. Many devotees were annoyed by immigration clearance delay at the Integrated Check Post. Despite being assigned 54 counters, few were functional, which led to a gate crash and pressure on the BSF to control it, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated it. As one crossed the zero line into Pakistan, the situation had completely reversed.
Pilgrims were received by cheerful officials, led to golf carts and low floor air-conditioned buses — just outside the money exchange counters and filtered easily through 110 gates.
A ten-minute walk leads to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, standing in the middle of 3.50 lakh square feet white marble flooring. The Pakistan Rangers and tourism staff helped and guided each devotee.
A group of 62 NRIs, specially invited by India from across the globe, were there too. Jagdev Singh, a senior official in UK Prisons department, said he had undergone a ‘divine experience.’ He said, the corridor had set better relations in stone, which hopefully, would remove the barriers between the two nations.
Gurdeep Singh Randhawa from Germany said, “The corridor should not viewed through the prism of troubled relations between India and Pakistan but as a path of peace,” while Sukhjinder Singh of Chandigarh said, “I never thought this corridor would ever be opened, but this is a dream come true.”