Corridor revives hope for Lahore bus - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Corridor revives hope for Lahore bus

Corridor revives hope for Lahore bus

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 10

The Kartarpur corridor opening has infused a ray of hope among the Sikhs for the revival of “Punj-Aab” bus service between Amritsar-Lahore-Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak.

The SGPC has offered to act as a conduit to facilitate the pilgrims for furnishing the travel documentation formalities and obtaining visa. At present, it is being furnished at the New Delhi embassy.

However, political experts believe that the India-Pakistan bus or rail services are unlikely to resume in near future till political will on either side of the border was there. SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh said, “This service was the most convenient to connect the two holy cities — Amritsar and Nankana Sahib. If the SGPC is entrusted with the responsibility of furnishing the visa formalities of the devotees, we will do the service. Devotees can deposit their passports, bus fare and visa fee with us and we can depute our staff to get their travel formalities endorsed from the embassies concerned in New Delhi.”

As a fall out of India’s move to revoke Article 370 in J&K, Pakistan had snapped all cross-border rail and road links besides downgrading diplomatic relations.

On August 10, the bus service on the Amritsar-Lahore-Nankana Sahib route was suspended. Since then, the bus has been stationed at the International Bus Terminus, Amritsar. Consequently, the incharge, two drivers and administrative staff have been sitting idle. Interestingly, around 14-15 police officers have been performing their duty to safeguard the stationary bus on rotational basis. They all earnestly desire that this bus, which has the exclusive permit of Amritsar-Nankana Sahib via Lahore, should run as it provided the passengers of both the nations an opportunity to meet their relatives who have been separated since Partition.

Harpal Singh Bhullar of Bhai Mardana Society, which organises pilgrimage to Pakistan on Gurpurbs, said the visa formalities should also be made locally in Amritsar. “It is a pity that the clause of the police verification of passengers is implemented on this route only, whereas there was no such binding for those who travelled on the New Delhi-Lahore route,” he added.

Notably, the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service, started on March 24, 2006, was flagged off by the then PM Manmohan Singh. Earlier, 25-30 passengers used to travel in the bus, but the count dipped in the last few months.

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