New Delhi [India], March 25 (ANI): Minister of State External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Thursday said that despite the Government of India's insistence, Pakistan continues to levy fees on the pilgrims who visit Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur through Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
"Representations have been received to make the visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur through Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor passport-free. However, the Bilateral Agreement signed between India and Pakistan on October 24, 2019 mandates that pilgrims shall travel on a valid passport," said MoS External Affairs V Muraleedharan.
The MoS made the above remarks in his response to a query by Lok Sabha MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal who inquired if the government had any plans to make the visit to Kartarpur Sahib passport-free for Sikh pilgrims who wanted to visit the holy site from across the globe.
The MoS MEA also highlighted several steps taken to facilitate the visit of pilgrims stating, "The Agreement, inter alia, provides for visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims as well as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders, from India to the holy Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan on a daily basis, throughout the year. To facilitate the visit of pilgrims, a state-of-the-art infrastructure, including a highway from the town of Dera Baba Nanak to Zero Point and an Integrated Check Post (ICP) has been built on the Indian side."Despite the request by India, Pakistan continues to charge pilgrims from India for each visit. "The Government of India has consistently urged the Government of Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy any fee or charge on the pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur through Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. Pakistan, however, continues to levy USD 20 on every pilgrim for each visit," Muraleedharan tells Badal in his reply.
An Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Pakistan, was signed on October 24, 2019, in order to fulfil the long-standing demand of Indian citizens and Overseas Citizen of India, to have easy and smooth access to the holy Gurudwara and to operationalise the corridor in time for the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Since its inauguration on November 9, 2019, Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor has been used by around 1,70,000 pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur. Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor remains functional on all seven days of the week.
Incidentally, Harsimrat Kaur, Badal, who was a minister in the Modi cabinet at that time had travelled with the first delegation of pilgrims that visited the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. (ANI)