Lahore:The Pakistan government has laid a 16,000 feet artificial turf in the courtyard of the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara to facilitate bare-footed pilgrims walk on the marble floor in the scorching heat, a top official said on Monday.
Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan have been visiting the gurdwara after it was reopened on June 29 following its closure for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“AstroTurf was laid on the marble floor of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib last week,” Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) spokesperson Amir Hashmi told PTI.
He said the gurdwara floor is carpeted with 16,000 feet turf in the courtyard to facilitate pilgrims as they have to walk bare-foot on the marble floor and in this hot weather, it is difficult to walk or sit on it.
Indian pilgrims are currently not visiting the gurdwara as India temporarily suspended the pilgrimage and registration for the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on March 16 in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
Pilgrims of all faiths from India are allowed to undertake round the year visa-free travel to the historic gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Still there has been no green signal from India to allow Sikhs to visit the gurdwara, Hashmi said, adding Pakistani Sikhs, however, are visiting it since June 29.
Sikhs from Pakistan and India are allowed to visit the Darabar Sahib by following the SOPs for social distancing. ETPB and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee have made special arrangements for the safety of the pilgrims.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan had conveyed the Indian side about its readiness to reopen the corridor in connection with the occasion of the death anniversary of Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjeet Singh on June 29.
Sources in the government of India in New Delhi had said Pakistan was trying to create a mirage of goodwill by proposing to reopen the corridor on June 29.
The sources also wondered why Pakistan proposed to reopen it in such a short notice of two days while a bilateral agreement on the corridor provided for information to be shared by both sides at least seven days before the date of travel.
The 4km-long Kartarpur Corridor provides visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, who had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.
In November last year, the two countries threw open the corridor linking Dera Baba Sahib in Gurdaspur in India and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, in a historic people-to-people initiative.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.