“The government has taken the initiative to put in place state-of-the-art infrastructure and open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev so that pilgrims from India and those holding Overseas Citizen of India Card can undertake visit to the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
“In view of the long-pending demand of the pilgrims to have visa-free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib and in the interest of operationalisation of the corridor in time before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak falling on November 12, the government has conveyed that India will be ready to sign the agreement on the corridor on October 23,” the MEA statement said.
Urges Pakistan to ‘reconsider’ levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit
New Delhi has, however, maintained its reservations over the $20 per pilgrim fee proposed by Pakistan. “While understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continues to insist on levying a service fee of USD 20 per pilgrim per visit,” the MEA statement said. “[The Indian] Government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee,” it said, adding that New Delhi will be ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time.
Pakistan had handed the final draft of the proposed bilateral agreement to India on October 11. Islamabad has also accepted New Delhi’s demand to allow devotees of other faiths – Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians, etc – to visit Baba Guru Nanak Devji’s final resting place.
The agreement, according to sources, will be signed either at Zero Point of Lahore’s Wagah border or the Kartarpur border.
Under the agreement, at least 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the holy site every day. India will share the list of pilgrims 10 days in advance and Pakistan will verify and finalise it four days before the visit.
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