ONEW DELHI — India will build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river in Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.
Kartarpur Sahib, located just across the International Border, is the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev and one of the holiest shrines of Sikhs.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
New Delhi will also also request Islamabad to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory as well.
"In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approves building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border. Kartarpur corridor project with all modern amenities and facilities to be implemented with Central Government funding," he said in a series of tweets.
The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. The Pakistan government will be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory, he said.
A high-powered telescope will be installed along the Indo-Pak border for devotees to view Kartarpur Sahib in Punjab.
The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.
After his return, Sidhu claimed that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.
The home minister said the union cabinet also decided to develop the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi as heritage town on smart city principles.
As major attraction for pilgrims and tourists, a heritage complex at Sultanpur Lodhi, 'Pind Babe Nanak da' to be developed to depict times of Guru Nanak Dev. Sultanpur Lodhi railway station to be upgraded and developed.
A centre for inter faith studies to be set up at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Chairs on Guru Nanak Dev to be set up in one university each in the United Kingdom and Canada. International seminar on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev to be organised in New Delhi.
Singh said commemorative coin and postage stamps will be released by the government and religious activities will be organised throughout the country. Doordarshan to telecast programmes on Guru Nanak Dev and Gurubani.
The Ministry of Railways will run a train passing through holy places associated with Guru Nanak Dev.
The home minister said states and union territories are being requested to celebrate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a befitting manner.
The Indian missions overseas will organise special events on the occasion. UNESCO to be requested to publish Guru Nanak Dev's writings in world languages. The National Book Trust will publish Gurbani in different Indian languages.
A high-level committee chaired by the home minister will regularly review, monitor and oversee the implementation of activities to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.