CHANDIGARH: With footfalls at the Kartarpur Corridor reported to be quite low so far, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday asked the ‘cash-rich’ Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to pay the $20 per pilgrim fee for travel out of their own coffers, at least to the Yellow Cardholders who simply could not afford to pay the amount.
Amid reports of confusion among pilgrims, he also urged the prime ministers of both India and Pakistan to waive off the passport condition for travel through Kartarpur Corridor and instead accept other forms of identity, including Aadhar card, Driving license etc.
These should be acceptable since there was no requirement of visa to be stamped on the passport in any case, he added.
Amarinder said the low number of devotees reportedly crossing over to the historic gurdwara was not because of lack of interest among the people but because of the two conditions of passport and $20 fee.
Lakhs of pilgrims were waiting to visit the Kartarpur Gurdwara on this historic 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev but were held back because of these problems, he added.
Though Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had tweeted, before the opening of the Corridor, that passport would not be needed for devotees to come through, the decision was not formalised, Amarinder pointed out.
He urged Imran, as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to resolve the problem by coming to an agreement to amend the MoU requirement for a passport to travel through the Corridor.
If pilgrims are unable to make full use of the Kartarpur Corridor then the whole purpose of this unique initiative on the part of the two governments would be defeated, he added. “Why can’t the SGPC and their political masters, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and particularly the Badal family, shell out some money for the actual good of the community,” said Amarinder.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) senior leader and leader of the opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema has demanded that the government should simplify the process of ‘darshan-e-didar’ of Kartarpur Sahib, by lifting the mandatory passport condition.
He said “Almost 60 per cent of the people of the state, a majority of the poor and common people, do not possess passport as they are not able to have one due to financial constraints”