Kartarpur corridor: India objects to Pakistan’s demand for ‘service fee’ from pilgrims

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New Delhi | Updated: Sep 04, 2019 4:16 PM

In the meeting, the Pakistani side insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, but India objected to Pakistan's terms of charging a fee.

india, pakistan, Kartarpur corridor, india pakistan news, india news, latest news, india pakistan borderThe two sides also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor every day

India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor. Both the sides reached at the decision during the third round of talks between them on the Kartarpur corridor held at Attari border in Amritsar to finalise the draft agreement.

The two sides also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine every day and additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by Pakistan side.

Watch: Indian authorities brief media after the third round of talks:

It was also decided that the corridor will be operational throughout the year and seven days a week. The pilgrims will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups. India and Pakistan agreed to build a bridge at Budhi Ravi channel and till the construction of the bridge is complete, both sides agreed to the crossing point coordinates of the temporary service road.

However, no agreement has been reached on Pakistan’s insistence on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Kartarpur gurdwara. In the meeting, the Pakistani side insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, but India did not agree to Pakistan’s terms. Also, Pakistan showed its reluctance to allow Indian Consular or protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises. India has asked Pakistan to reconsider its position on both the points.

According to the officials, the two sides agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan without any restrictions. They also reached consensus at allowing the Persons of Indian origin holding OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card to visit the Gurdwara using the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims. Now, the pilgrims will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib. The shrine was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev. It is the final resting place of Guru Nanak.

India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the border crossing linking to the shrines last year in November. Kartarpur is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak.

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