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Sikh Pilgrims Should Carry Passports, MEA Clarifies Ahead of Inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor

The announcement comes soon after the Pakistan Army said Indian pilgrims using the corridor will need a passport despite Prime Minister Imran Khan saying the devotees will only be required to produce a valid identity proof.

News18.com

Updated:November 7, 2019, 4:20 PM IST
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Sikh Pilgrims Should Carry Passports, MEA Clarifies Ahead of Inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor
Sikh devotees wave as they leave for Pakistan via Attari-Wagah border to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, at Attari about 35km from Amritsar, Tuesday, November 5, 2019. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Two days ahead of the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday clarified that Sikh pilgrims from India should carry their passports as valid proof of identity. Kumar said conflicting reports are coming from Pakistan on whether Indian pilgrims will require passports to visit the Darbar Sahib shrine using the new facility.

“The confusion remains, but we will go by the requirements of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the two countries. So, we will be taking passport as ID proof,” MEA spokesperson Raveeh Kumar said at a weekly briefing.

Kumar said an agreement was signed between the two countries finalising the modalities for visits by Indian pilgrims and India will stick to it.

"We are aware that there is a bilateral document which has been signed between India and Pakistan, which clearly specifies the document to be carried by the pilgrims. Any amendment to the existing MoU cannot be done unilaterally, it requires consent of both the parties," he said.

"Conflicting reports are coming from Pakistan. Sometimes they say passport is needed and sometimes they say it is not required. As of now, there is a bilateral agreement which specified required documents," he said.

Kumar said India has sensitised Pakistan about the security and protocol arrangements as well. "I think it's natural for advanced team to visit a country before a high dignitary visit takes place. We have not heard anything from Pakistan so far. We've requested them for security and medical arrangements for dignitaries," he added.

The announcement comes soon after the Pakistan Army said Indian pilgrims using the corridor will need a passport despite Prime Minister Imran Khan saying the devotees will only be required to produce a valid identity proof. But according to the agreement, passports will be needed.

The comments by Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor came a day after India asked Islambad to clarify whether Sikh pilgrims will require passports to visit the gurdwara in Kartarpur.

The Kartarpur Corridor, which provides a visa-free access to Indian Sikhs to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, will be inaugurated on Saturday by Prime Minister Imran Khan to mark Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary.

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