Pak Deputy HC summoned over Sikh pilgrims row

ANI | Updated: Apr 16, 2018 22:34 IST

New Delhi [India], Apr. 16 (ANI): Amid the ongoing controversy regarding the denial of consular access to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan, India on Monday summoned Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah.

India also staged a strong protest at attempts being made during the ongoing visit of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan to raise the issue of 'Khalistan' by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters at various places of pilgrimage.

Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and incitement of disharmony in India. It was also conveyed that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India amount to interference in the internal affairs of India.

Moreover, India asserted that such incidents during the visit of pilgrims were against the spirit of the bilateral Protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries.

Last week, around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims from India had travelled to Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Rawalpindi. However, Pakistani authorities reportedly blocked the Indian High Commission from performing basic consular and protocol duties for its citizens.

Soon after, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after a visiting group of Sikh pilgrims was denied consular access.

However, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal released a statement on Sunday, stating that the Secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had extended an invitation to the High Commissioner of India to attend the main function of Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14. He further said that the (Pakistani) Ministry of Foreign Affairs promptly processed the matter on April 13 and granted the travel permission.

However, Faisal stated that in the run-up to the main function, the ETPB authorities noticed strong resentment among segments of Sikh Yatrees, gathered there from different parts of the world, allegedly protesting the release of some film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji in India. Considering an emotionally charged environment and the possibility of any untoward situation, the ETPB authorities subsequently contacted the Indian High Commission officials and suggested cancellation of the visit. (ANI)