Kartarpur Corridor ICP under BSF before Nov 8 (IANS Exclusive)
The Union Home Ministry has approved deployment of special units of Border Security Force to guard Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Immigration Check Post (ICP) between India and Pakistan and the paramilitary force is expected to take over the post before November 8.
These BSF units are expected to arrive in Punjab's Gurdaspur district in "one or two days" and will take over the security of the Corridor's passenger terminal building (PTB) and the 4.2 km long road connecting International Border a day before the project – being constructed at Dera Baba Nanak – is handed over to the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), said an senior government official.
Another official said that the Home Ministry was requested to sanction "one Battalion" to secure the Corridor and the Ministry accordingly approved only "some companies" (less than half a dozen) assuring more force would be sanctioned later as per the needs.
The official refused to disclose the number of companies citing security reasons.
One BSF company carry more than 110 troops while a Battalion comprises around 1,000 personnel.
The sanctioned units would cordon off the whole ICP a day before the LPAI is handed over the project being built since June 4 with contract value of Rs 177.49 crore, said the official, requesting anonymity.
"All security-related arrangements will be done before the inauguration of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 8. The whole ICP would be under the BSF security cover by its special units which has already been approved by the Home Ministry as per requirements raised two months ago by the LPAI," said the official.
Asked over the current security scenario, a BSF officer said: "We are already guarding the 'Zero Line' at the International Border and the state police is assisting the force. As OP (Observation Post) tower is still not installed there and construction work is still going on, there is no need to take up the ICP security. Once these are finished, we will take over. But our separate company and state police is already there to provide security."
Officials said security of the passenger terminal at Dera Baba Nanak will be the responsibility of the BSF, as per the LPAI Act, 2010. BSF is mandated to guard borders with Pakistan (3,323 km) and Bangladesh (4,096 km).
The security norms at the Corridor will be on par with airport terminals and the pilgrims visiting the shrine will have to undergo frisking and checking upon their travel from the terminal to the religious shrine and on their return to ensure that they are not carrying (Khalistani) propaganda material, said the official.
Apart from BSF, immigration, customs and state police officials will be stationed at the terminal to help pilgrims.
"Generally CISF is deputed for the immigration duties, but keeping the border point of view, the BSF is being deputed there. The BSF personnel will be trained how to handle pilgrims."
The Kartarpur Corridor project's PTB building, being built up in 23,200 sqm area, as well as the 4.2 km-long corridor on the Indian side will be completed by October 31, a week before the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev as announced by the Centre.
The Corridor links Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side and Kartarpur Sahib, situated 4.5 km from the border in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
The work on the Indian side is almost complete and the officials linked to the corridor indicated that the ICP would be ready before November 8 for the devotees wishing to visit Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara where Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.
As many as 5,000 pilgrims will be visiting the shrine every day. The number may go up to 10,000 on special occasions, as per agreement between India and Pakistan.
It is learnt that the first batch of pilgrims comprising Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other VIPs are likely to visit the shrine on November 9.
With this ICP, the total number of such posts would be 87 all over the counrty. Unlike other ICPs which cater to international traffic, this ICP would facilitate those wanting to visit Kartarpur Sahib.IANS