SCL Das, Joint Secretary, Internal Security in Ministry of Home Affairs, addressing media persons on Wednesday in Attari. Photo/ANI
SCL Das, Joint Secretary, Internal Security in Ministry of Home Affairs, addressing media persons on Wednesday in Attari. Photo/ANI

India opposes Pak service charge on Kartarpur pilgrims

ANI | Updated: Sep 04, 2019 19:02 IST

Attari (Punjab) [India], Sep 4 (ANI): India and Pakistan on Wednesday failed to finalise an agreement on the Kartarpur corridor following differences over key issues including Islamabad's insistence on charge a fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
India is not agreeable to the proposal for charging pilgrims, said B C L Das, leader of the Indian delegation and Joint Secretary, Internal Security in the Home Ministry told a press conference after talks with Pakistan officials.
"Owing to certain differences on a few key issues, the agreement between India and Pakistan could not be finalised. Pakistan has insisted on charging a service fee for allowing Pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which is not agreeable in the spirit smooth and easy access through the corridor," he said.
He also added: "India has persisted that it should be free for the pilgrims who wish to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. However, Pakistan has shown extreme inflexibility on the issue and they haven't accommodated our request."
"Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian Consular or Protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises. We also urged them to reconsider its position on the same," the official said.
During the meeting, both the sides have also agreed on visa-free travel by Indian pilgrims to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan using the corridor. Moreover, it will allow as many as 5,000 pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara every day.
Adding that Pakistan side has highlighted infrastructure constraints to accommodate 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions, the official said: "Pakistan has conveyed that they may be able to step it up in due course based on available capacity. However, the corridor will be operational round-the-clock throughout the year. The pilgrims will have a choice to visit either as individuals or in groups."
The official also added that all facilities on Indian side would be ready for the pilgrimage through Kartarpur corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Devji.
"The work on the 4-lane highway up to the international boundary on the Indian side is on schedule. It will be completed by the end of September 2019. All the facilities on Indian side would be ready for the pilgrimage through Kartarpur Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Devji," Das said.
Adding that the works on the corridor are being monitored by the officials concerned on a daily basis, he said: "India has made very significant and consistent progress in setting up a state-of-the-art infrastructure, including passenger terminal on the Indian side that can handle over 15,000 pilgrims in a day, and is targeted to be completed by October 2019."
Further, he said that both sides have agreed upon ensuring a safe and secure environment for the movement of pilgrims through the corridor.
"India and Pakistan have agreed to build a bridge at Budhi Ravi channel. Moreover, we have agreed upon emergency evacuation procedures, especially medical emergencies. For this, a direct line of communication between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers will be used," Das added. (ANI)

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