Tribune News Service
Dera Baba Nanak, October 15
After weeks of confusion, clarity has finally emerged on the subject of passport and visa for pilgrims desirous of visiting Kartarpur through the corridor with government officials stating that a passport will definitely be needed, but it will not be stamped with Pakistani visas.
This decision was keenly awaited because it is common knowledge that if a person’s passport has a Pakistani visa, his or her visa application to the US, Australia and European countries is compromised.
Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who visited the site today, said the Pakistan government had recently conveyed this decision to Indian officials.
“This was confirmed by Ajay Bhalla, Union Home Secretary, after a meeting held with him and other Central officials at the zero-line yesterday. A passport will be needed just for identification purposes. There was a lot of uncertainty on this issue because under normal circumstances, a person travelling to Pakistan by air, sea or road needs to have a visa stamped from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. However, if anybody wants to use the corridor, he will not be requiring a visa,” said Randhawa.
CM Capt Amarinder Singh has been a strong votary of the corridor being both passport and visa-free. He had also taken up the issue with the ministers concerned in Delhi, but met with partial success because the government still insists upon having a passport.
Randhawa said to ensure a level-playing field, the Centre was mulling over a proposal to allow a pilgrim to cross over not more than one time a year.
“Repeated visits by those who can financially afford to go will mar the chances of other devotees. Such a rule should be put in place at least for the first year of the corridor’s inception,” he said.
Meanwhile, the CM dispatched PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla to the corridor site today. “All four roads leading to the ICP are being recarpeted and widened. The government has already sanctioned grants. The passages which are being strengthened are the ones leading to Dera Baba Nanak from Fatehgarh Churian, Ramdas, Batala and Gurdaspur,” said Singla.
Hotels and banquet halls to remain closed
‘Will resolve stand-off peacefully’
Active cases stand at 1,20,406
Many residents complained of suspected gas leak from Chembur
Gunfight on in south Kashmir’s Rebon village