Pakistan on Friday informed India it would levy a $20 fee (Rs 1,425) on Indian pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on Saturday, when the Kartarpur Corridor will be inaugurated, India Today reported. News agency PTI also reported that Pakistan had decided to charge $20 from the pilgrims, citing unidentified officials.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier said the fee would be waived on the day of inauguration.
However, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal claimed India had refused to accept their concessions “in blatant disregard of Sikh sentiments”. “If India does not wish to avail these facilitative measures for pilgrims, it is India’s choice,” he said. “India is creating confusion to confuse.”
Leading Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune also claimed that India had not accepted Khan’s offer to waive the passport requirement for the pilgrims. According to the newspaper, Pakistan officially conveyed its decisions to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and the Indian government.
Pakistan had also waived the 10-day intimation period for pilgrims visiting the shrine, Dawn reported. The newspaper reiterated that the service fee and passport requirement had been waived.
Imran Khan had said Indian pilgrims would not need to carry passports, a day before Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said the pilgrims would need to carry it.
Following this, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar accused Pakistan of issuing contradictory statements on the passport matter. He said India would follow the text of the agreement signed between the two sides, which stipulates that the pilgrims have to carry passports.
India also asked Pakistan to immediately remove the official video of the inauguration event in which a poster of three former Sikh separatist leaders – Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa – was seen. The poster had the message “Khalistan 2020”, which is a reference to a referendum planned by separatists on the question of a separate Sikh homeland. A United States-based separatist group that led the campaign, Sikhs for Justice, was banned by India in July.
According to the agreement between India and Pakistan, every day at least 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the gurdwara, where Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev was laid to rest, without visa. They will visit in the morning and will have to return the same evening. An online application system for pilgrims is operational at http://prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in/kpr. Pilgrims will be allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 11,000 and seven-kg of luggage. They will not be allowed to go beyond the shrine.
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