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Kartarpur Corridor: Canadian HC suggests should be made approachable for OCI holders

Amritsar Paper artist displays the paper model of Kartarpur Sahib

New Delhi, July 04 (UITV): Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi Nadir Patel has supported India’s demand for permitting people of Indian origin with OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cards to access the Kartarpur Corridor.

The issue has been a point of separation between India and Pakistan as the two sides are working to operating the corridor in time for the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, in November.

The High Commissioner told News18, “The corridor-opening to let this pilgrimage is significant and on my opinion, something like that should not be restricted by geography. It’s associated to faith, connected to pilgrimage so it should be made available.”

According to the Indian High Commission (Ottawa) website, Canada sponsors one of the greatest Indian diasporas in the world — numbering 16 lakh — which accounts for more than three per cent of its total population. Among the Indian diaspora, the Sikh community accounts for about five lakh people.

A source though recommended that there has been no official rendition from the Canadian Sikh community in this regard. India had suggested to Pakistan to not only allow Sikhs but all Indians regardless of their faith to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Narowal, Pakistan, through the dedicated corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. It had also proposed that OCI card holders should be allowed. Pakistan has not agreed to this proposal so far though the movement of Indians irrespective of religion has been agreed upon.

Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel with his family at GoldenTemple in Amritsar

It is also interesting to note that the official talks with Pakistan slated for April 2 this year to work out the modalities to operationalise the corridor were called off by India over serious concerns regarding pro-Khalistani elements being part of the Pakistani Kartarpur committee. Sources said objectionable entities such as Gopal Singh Chawla, Tara Singh, Maninder Singh, Besant Singh and Kuljeet Singh were part of the 10-member Pakistani committee.

However, last week India proposed a fresh window of dates and the meeting is now locked in for July 14 on the Pakistani side of the Wagah-Attari border. There is no confirmation, however, if Pakistan has labelled India’s concerns. Sources simply said the fact that India was interested to work out the processes affirms its allgiance to the corridor.

Amusingly, the Khalistani issue has also produced some size of annoyance in India-Canada relations as within the last few years. India has been communicating worries over pro-Khalistani elements once again being active in Canada and the government being soft on them due to political considerations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit in February 2018 was deluged in dispute when condemned Khalistani Jaspal Atwal’s pictures with Trudeau’s wife at a Mumbai event went viral.