Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Video Producer: Hera Khan
(This story was first published on 9 November 2019 and is being reposted from The Quint's archives to mark the re-opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on 17 November 2021 after being shut for over 20 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Inaugurated a day earlier, the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor thrown open to the public on Sunday, 10 November, witnessed overwhelmed, excited and some disappointed pilgrims.
The four-km-long corridor, which connects the revered gurdwara in Pakistan to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, 9 November.
Speaking to The Quint, 78-year-old Harimohan Singh Bhatia, who had come from Delhi, teared up while saying that he failed to describe his excitement to visit the holy shrine.
“It is an opportunity of a lifetime. After 72 years I have been given an opportunity of a lifetime. I am truly excited but words fail to describe how I am feeling.”Harimohan Singh Bhatia, Pilgrim
Another pilgrim Baljinder Singh said that the Kartarpur Corridor provided a “ray of hope.”
“The joy of visiting Kartarpur Sahib on the very first day after the corridor opens is unparalleled. I enrolled for it as soon as the registration started. This is a big moment for not only Sikhs but also for India and Pakistan, amid strained relationship.”Baljinder Singh, Banker & Pilgrim
The reporter, along with the pilgrims, crossed multiple check points to get to the corridor. While the passport and a confirmation letter from the bureau of immigration is checked at one, the pilgrims' biometric is taken at another. At the customs point pilgrims have to declare their belongings before proceeding to the corridor.
Fifty-year-old Gurjeet Kaur who was waiting to complete the formalities said that she will return only after visiting the Kartarpur Sahib. Speaking to The Quint, she said:
“Whether I am the first or last pilgrim to get into the corridor, whether I have to walk or not, I will go back only after visiting the Kartarpur Sahib.”Gurjeet Kaur, Pilgrim
However, there were some disappointments as well. Sixty-year-old Inderjeet Kaur who had come to visit the Sikh shrine all the way from Pune was not allowed to visit as she had not registered herself earlier.
“I saw on YouTube that the registration will be done in the offices on site. Four of us have come and all of us are above 60. We wanted to worship in Kartarpur on the first day but will come back whenever the Guru calls me back.”Inderjeet Kaur, Pilgrim
On the inaugural day 562 pilgrims crossed over to Pakistan to offer prayers at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur after the much-awaited corridor was opened, officials said on Saturday.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and Union ministers Hardeep Puri and Som Prakash were also a part of the delegation.