India on Thursday launched an online portal for the registration of pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Punjab Province of Pakistan.
The portal went live after India and Pakistan signed a formal framework for the operationalisation of the pilgrimage route.
“For registration of pilgrims, the online portal (prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in) has gone live today. The pilgrims may have to necessarily register themselves online on this portal and exercise their choice to travel on any day. Pilgrims will be informed by SMS and email of the confirmation of registration three to four days in advance of the date of travel,” SCL Das, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Home Affairs said.
“An Electronic Travel Authorization will also be generated. The pilgrims need to carry Electronic Travel Authorization, along with their passport, when they arrive at the Passenger Terminal Building,” he added.
Das said that the portal works on the basis of ‘first come first serve’ where the pilgrims can choose their date of visit depending on the availability. The online portal is available in English and Gurumukhi script. During the media address, Indian delegation also gave demo of the portal.
The delegations of two countries met at the ‘Zero Line’ and signed the agreement on the corridor which will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan. Both countries will hold events to mark the opening of their sections of the corridor.
The Indian delegation was led by Das and the Pakistani delegation by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Mohammed Faisal.
Pakistan will allow as many as 5,000 pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara every day. India has to provide a list of pilgrims 10 days before their scheduled visit, said Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal.
The agreement was finalised after the three-round of high-level talks. The signing of the agreement was delayed due to the disagreement on the service charge on pilgrims.
Pakistan said that it would levy USD 20 service charges from Indian pilgrims but India opposed the proposal. It asked Islamabad to waive the charges citing “religious and spiritual sentiments” of pilgrims.
However, Pakistan did not back down. To which, India on Thursday expressed disappointment and urged the Islamabad to reconsider its decision.
India also said that it is ready to make the amendment in the agreement if Pakistan decides to waive the fee.
The travel of pilgrims will be visa-free and they need to carry an only a valid passport. Das said that the Pakistani side has agreed to make provision for ‘langar’ and distribution of ‘prasad’ in the Gurdwara premises.
The Joint Secretary said that that the corridor will be open from dawn to dusk. “Corridor will be open from dawn to dusk. Pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day. Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, to be informed in advance,” he said.
Das said that all the required infrastructure on the Indian side are about to be completed. He said New Delhi has emphasised on providing all-weather connectivity through the corridor
“On our side, all the required infrastructure, including the highway & the Passenger Terminal Building are nearing completion for the timely inauguration of the corridor,” he said
“In this context, the Government of India has built the bridge on the Indian side and a temporary service road as an interim arrangement. It is expected that Pakistan will fulfil the assurance that it would build the bridge on their side at the earliest,” he added,
The foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid on the Indian side on November 26, 2018.
Two days later, the foundation stone was laid on the Pakistani side. Both countries will hold events to mark the opening of their sections of the corridor next month.