Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday made it clear that devotees applying online to visit Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan were not being charged facilitation fee by 'sewa kendras' set up by the state government and said anyone asked to pay any fee should inform his office directly.
Reacting to reports of pilgrims beings charged some kind of facilitation fee for applying through the online portal at the 'sewa kendras, which provide citizen centric services, the chief minister said there was no question of charging the devotees and the application process was totally free of cost.
"If any specific complaint is received by the state government, I will personally ensure strict action against the officials found guilty of such misconduct, which would be a total violation of my government's decision to provide free application service to the devotees," he said in a statement here.
Singh pointed out that he had been personally opposing the USD 20 fee imposed by the Pakistan government for devotees travelling to the historic Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur through the Kartarpur Corridor, as the imposition of any fee for such purpose was totally against the religious tenets of Sikhism.
In fact, India had never charged pilgrims from any country, including from Pakistan, for visiting and paying obeisance at any religious shrine, he said, adding that his government was completely against any deviation from this practice.
Singh said the 'sewa kendras' had been issued detailed guidelines for facilitating and processing online applications of those desirous of visiting the gurdwara at Kartarpur.
These guidelines did not include any facilitation fee, he said, adding that he would take serious note of any violation of these guidelines.
The Kartarpur Gurdwara, where Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev spent the last days of his life, held a special place in the life of every Sikh, and in fact of every follower of the great Guru, and he, like his father and great grandfather before him, would do everything in his power to ensure that the revered shrine is preserved for Sikhs for centuries, Singh said.
The corridor, connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district with historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, was thrown open on November 9.
On November 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the portion of the corridor falling on the Indian side while his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan inaugurated corridor's part on the Pakistani side, three days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.