Pakistan has plans to levy a tax on pilgrims of $20 for devotees from the Sikh community visiting the Kartarpur Corridor from India, according to sources. Disrespecting the religious sentiments, Pakistan has stooped to a new low by charging pilgrims. India and Pakistan had both agreed on visa-free travel to the Kartarpur Corridor.
India had asked Pakistan to reconsider the decision on charging USD 20 per pilgrim and allow 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and an Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur every day. Answering a question on former prime minister Manmohan Singh agreeing to join the first all-party delegation to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara after the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Kumar said the MEA has a limited role to play in the inauguration ceremony on the Indian side.
India is committed towards the early completion of the Kartarpur Corridor project and has asked Pakistan to show "flexibility" on charging fees as it is a sentimental matter for the pilgrims, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday. Responding to a question, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India hopes that the infrastructure projects on the Indian side gets completed in a time-bound manner.
"The four-lane highway has been completed and the state-of-the-art passenger terminal will be completed by October end," Kumar said.
MEA spokesperson said India shared an agreement with Pakistan but it has not received a reply yet. "We requested them to show flexibility as it is a sentimental matter to us but they are insisting on the fees. We have not received a reply on it and we hope we receive a response soon," he told reporters. The Kartarpur Corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit the revered Kartarpur Sahib.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor to Sri Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan on November 8, Union Minister Harsimrat Badal said. Modi will inaugurate the integrated check post on the Indian side, she said. Taking to Twitter, the Union Minister announced that PM Modi will be creating history by inaugurating the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
(With PTI inputs)