India on Sunday told Pakistan to keep an eye on those who may try to take advantage of the Kartarpur corridor and disrupt the pilgrimage, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. The ministry said that Pakistan has agreed on visa-free travel for Indian passport holders and Overseas Citizenship of India card holders for seven days a week.
“It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport holders and OCI [Overseas Citizenship of India] card holders seven days a week,” the statement said. “Throughout the year, 5000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot.”
The Indian delegation, who took part in the second round of bilateral discussions on the project, asked for consular presence in the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara so that pilgrims can be provided assistance. “The importance for ensuring safe and secure environment for the pilgrims was underscored,” the statement said. “In this context, concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims were shared. A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side to highlight concerns in the matter.” The Pakistani delegation asserted that no “anti-India activity” would be allowed.
The Indian delegation, led by Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs SCL Das, included representatives from several ministries of the government and a few government bodies. “Both sides have agreed to maintain a channel of communication and work towards finalisation on the agreement of modalities,” ANI quoted Das as saying. “If required, our delegations could meet in India to formally concluding the agreement.”
“We conveyed concerns regarding possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas in India as a result of earth filled embankment road or causeway proposed to be built by Pakistan on their side and it shouldn’t be built even in interim,” ANI quoted Das as saying. He also said that the government was confident that India will b able to start the pilgrimage on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The Pakistani delegation highlighted the infrastructural constraints on their side, and said that they may be able to accommodate many of the Indian proposals in phases.
The External Affairs ministry statement also said that the Pakistani side had been separately requested to allow and facilitate ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in July and then again between October and November. “Have conveyed to Pakistan and sought their cooperation for the proposal of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to take out ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan,” ANI quoted Das as saying. “It was on the sidelines of the meeting.”