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EditorialKartarpur Corridor marred by India’s politics

Kartarpur Corridor marred by India’s politics

November 9 marked the second anniversary of the Kartarpur Corridor, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to highlight Pakistan’s commitment towards religious freedom and interfaith harmony. The first year of its opening witnessed a large number of Sikh pilgrims, many hailing from India, visiting their holy site. In 2020, the corridor was closed in March, owing to the Coronavirus related restrictions in India and Pakistan. However, with a steady decline in cases reported in both the countries, Pakistan was all set to host 3,000 pilgrims this year. But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his hardline BJP government seems in no mood to reopen the corridor.

India hosts the majority of the 23 million members of the Sikh community in the world, who are mostly situated in Punjab across the border. With the birth anniversary of the founder of the community set to be observed on November 30th this year, thousands of Sikh pilgrims are waiting on the Indian government to open the passage. Islamabad, along with the community, have urged the BJP regime to reopen the corridor and allow pilgrims to visit the holy site but to no avail. Until the time of writing, according to media reports, the Shiromani Committee and the immigration officials of Kartarpur Corridor in India have not given a definite answer to those inquiring about its reopening. It has been reported that the committee has been delaying the decision as officials state ‘not soon’ in reply to hundreds of queries. It isn’t clear why the Modi government has been delaying the process but racial discrimination cannot be ruled out.

Considering the violence meted out to the Sikh community during this year’s farmers’ protest, there is ample evidence of the growing xenophobia in once ‘secular’ India. It must be noted that just last month, four members of the community were brutally crushed to death by a speeding car driven by a BJP state minister’s son, on the site of the protests. The case was not only hushed up with little to no coverage of the incident but the minister’s son was also released. Under Modi, religious discrimination in India has been at an all-time high with the Muslim minority facing the worse. It is, however, hoped that the BJP regime takes a decision in favour of the aggrieved Sikh community and not play politics by keeping religious sentiments at stake.

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