Demand for $20 fee per pilgrim stalls online registration
India and Pakistan were supposed to sign a pact on Saturday on a few unresolved issues of the pilgrimage, but that has not happened yet.Updated: Oct 21, 2019 00:06 IST
New Delhi The online registration of devotees to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur could not start on Sunday as India and Pakistan have not yet agreed upon a number of issues, including Islamabad’s insistence of charging $20 from each pilgrim, officials said.
India and Pakistan were supposed to sign a pact on Saturday on a few unresolved issues of the pilgrimage, but that has not happened yet.
“Since some issues are yet to be resolved, the online registration for the Kartarpur pilgrimage could not be started on Sunday,” an official privy to the development said.
Key unresolved issues include Pakistan’s insistence on charging $20 from each pilgrim and the timing of the pilgrimage every day (first entry and last exit time).
On October 16, chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India and additional secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Govind Mohan had said the online registration for pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is expected to commence on October 20, provided a pact is signed on remaining issues.
India had asked Pakistan to reconsider the decision on charging $20 per pilgrim, allow 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and an Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.
Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s requests, the official said.
Last month, India and Pakistan agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur corridor. Pilgrims will only have to carry their passports to visit the gurdwara in Pakistan.
Persons of Indian origin holding OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card too can visit the gurdwara using the Kartarpur corridor.
It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine everyday and that additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by the Pakistan side.
India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational throughout the year and pilgrims will have a choice to visit it as individual or in groups.
Both sides agreed to build a bridge over the Budhi Ravi channel near the border crossing point. Pending the construction of the bridge on the Pakistan side, both parties agreed to the crossing point coordinates of the temporary service road.
India has constructed a four-lane highway in Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab connecting the ‘zero point’ for onward journey to Pakistan.
A state-of-the-art passenger terminal with facilitation centre to host government officials responsible for ensuring hassle-free travel of pilgrims, food kiosks, parking areas and security points will also come up by November 8 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally inaugurate the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor. A total of 55 immigration counters are being set up at the passenger terminal.