Hours after Punjab MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu sent a third letter seeking permission to attend the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration on the Pakistan side, sources today said that he has received political clearance to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib on November 9.
He will travel through the Kartarpur Corridor along with other devotees, they added. According to news agency IANS, the Amritsar lawmaker had not applied for accompanying the "jatha" of Sikh pilgrims led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the Kartarpur gurdwara on opening day.
Mr Sidhu had sought permission to attend the Pakistan inaugural event on three occasions until today, the latest letter claiming that the absence of a response to his request was "hindering" his travel plans. He was invited to the event by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was his contemporary on the cricketing field in the 1980s.
External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had refused to address the issue at a press meet held earlier today. "He can do whatever he wants. I have already said that this is a big occasion, and we cannot focus on an individual traveller's plans to go to Kartarpur. I would not like to comment on that in this forum," he said.
News agency PTI later quoted Pakistani authorities as saying that they have already provided Mr Sidhu with a visa to to make the trip. "Pakistan has issued visa to Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for his visit to the holy shrine of Baba Guru Nanak," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal reportedly said during his weekly media briefing.
Inaugural events for the Kartarpur corridor, linking the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, will be held on both sides of the border on Saturday. While the corridor will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will declare it open at the other end.
Despite having an invitation, Mr Sidhu's plans to make the journey were stalled when the centre mandated all such guests to secure political clearance first. He claims to have not heard from them ever since.
The latest letter addressed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar bore an urgent tone. "The delay and no response is a hindrance to my future course of action. I categorically state that if the government says no, as a law-abiding citizen, I will not go, But if you don't respond to my third letter, then I will proceed to Pakistan as millions of Sikh devotees go on an eligible visa," he wrote.
Raveesh Kumar also cleared the air on requirements for Sikh devotees at his press meet, saying that they will be required to make the mandated $20 entry fee payment while being registered at the border. "It's just that people going there have to carry this amount with them, so that the payment can be made," he said.
(With inputs from Agencies)