Confusion over Kartarpur registration process
Pilgrims require scanned copies of their passports to register for the pilgrimage even as Pakistan has said it does not require the document. Those without a passport are, thus, unable to register for now.Updated: Nov 04, 2019 01:54 IST
Islamabad may have exempted pilgrims from carrying passports for a visa-free access to the gurdwara built at the place where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final years in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, but the registration process is causing confusion among the applicants, pilgrims and officials said on Sunday.
The government launched prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in on October 24 for the pilgrims to register for the pilgrimage. After registration, a pilgrim would receive confirmation through SMS and email at least three to four days before the date of travel.
According to the portal, pilgrims require scanned copies of their passports to register for the pilgrimage even as Pakistan has said it does not require the document. Those without a passport are, thus, unable to register for now.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Friday announced that the pilgrims would not need passports to visit the gurdwara and that just valid IDs would do. The pilgrims will be exempted from registering 10 days in advance, he had tweeted.
Yogesh Kamra, a resident of Amritsar, said:“Pakistan has removed the need for passport but currency exchange [also] requires a passport.”
The second relates to how to pay the service fee of $20 (around ₹1,400) that Pakistan will levy, though, this amount will not be charged for the day of the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, November 9, and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, November 12.
India has been seeking a complete waiver of the $20 service fee and called it a “matter of disappointment” that Islamabad did not heed the request for doing so.
“I have applied for the pilgrimage by registering at the website that the government has set up. There is no clarity, however, whether the service fee will be accepted online. I am also not clear on whether this amount has to be paid in dollars or Indian rupees,” added Kamra.
Registration on the web portal that Indian officials launched after an agreement with Pakistan started on October 24. Slots have already been filled till November 14.
For now, people wanting to register in villages and small towns of Punjab are visiting Sewa Kendras, service facilitation centres of the Punjab government. These centres are charging ₹20 for filling up each online registration form.
The Indian government is yet to take a decision on the modalities and nitty-gritty of the payment of fee.
When asked if pilgrims needed to pay the service fee while applying online, Indian officials, after signing the agreement, had told reporters at Dera Baba Nanak, “Online registration will be free as India has not levied any kind of charges. It is Pakistan that has done this. We will make you aware of the mode and the procedure of payment to Pakistan after getting clarity from their side.”
“I will talk to the authorities concerned to make the process easier, so that the facility for which devotees have prayed for decades is easily accessible to the masses,” said Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla.
Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal leader Prem Singh Chandumajra has criticised the government for levying the fee for offline registration. “On the one hand, we are seeking a complete waiver of the service fee from Pakistan. On the other hand, our government is charging money for registration. This facility at the [passport] Sewa Kendras should be free of cost entirely,” he said.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur.