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Pakistan Imposing 'Jazia' on Sikhs for Visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara, Says BJP National Secy

BJP Minister urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene, saying it is a religious and emotional issue for crores of devotees who follow the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

PTI

Updated:September 14, 2019, 10:50 PM IST
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Pakistan Imposing 'Jazia' on Sikhs for Visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara, Says BJP National Secy
File photo of Kartarpur Sahib (Image: YouTube)

Chandigarh: BJP leader Tarun Chugh on Saturday termed as "jazia" (a tax traditionally sought from non-Muslims) a service fee of USD 20 that Pakistan seeks to levy on Indian pilgrims travelling to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the proposed Kartarpur corridor.

He alleged that this is yet another attempt by the neighbouring country to scuttle the scheduled opening of the corridor.

At a joint secretary-level meeting between India and Pakistan on September 4, the two sides could not finalise the draft agreement on the corridor, with Pakistan insisting on charging a service fee from Indian pilgrims and not allowing protocol officials to accompany them.

In a statement, Chugh said, "The USD 20 fee is nothing but 'jazia' to be charged from Sikhs. The Narendra Modi government will not allow it at any cost."

"In India, no fee or charge is taken from any devotees for visiting shrines. Then how can the Government of India accede to a totally unjustified proposal put forth by Pakistan?" the BJP leader asked.

He urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene, saying it is a religious and emotional issue for crores of devotees who follow the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith.

Chugh said both the governments had acceded to the long-pending demand of Sikhs for opening the Kartarpur corridor which could facilitate Sikhs and others from India to visit and pay obeisance at the historic shrine.

"Instead of facilitating the scheduled start, Pakistan is trying to scuttle the project by one way or other. It first laid down various conditions for visas and also made the number of pilgrims an issue. Now it has come up with this USD 20 fee proposal which is neither acceptable to the Sikh community nor the (Indian) government," he said.

In November 2018, India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from Dera Baba Nanak.

The two sides plan to open the corridor before the year-long celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak begin in November this year. Indian officials have said a state-of-the-art passenger terminal, which can accommodate up to 15,000 pilgrims, will be completed by October 31.​

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