India summons Pak CDA to lodge ‘strong protest’ over Kartarpur Gurdwara
India on Friday summoned Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires to lodge a protest against Islamabad’s decision to hand over management of Durbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur to a body without any Sikh representatives.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Aftab Hassan Khan, chargé d’affaires at the Pakistan high commission, was “summoned and our strong protest was conveyed”.
“It was also conveyed to him that this unilateral decision by Pakistan is highly condemnable and runs against the spirit of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as also the religious sentiments of the Sikh community at large,” he said.
Srivastava said the Indian government has received representations from the Sikh community “expressing grave concern at this decision by Pakistan, targeting the rights of the minority Sikh community”.
He added, “Pakistan is called upon to reverse its arbitrary decision to deprive the Sikh minority community its right to manage affairs of the holy gurdwara [in] Kartarpur.”
Darbar Sahib Gurdwara is built at the site at Kartarpur in Pakistan where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last years of his life.
According to a notification issued on November 3, Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry handed over management of the gurdwara to a “project management unit” under the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), a government department that oversees the shrines of the country’s minorities.
The gurdwara was earlier under the management of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC). There are no Sikhs among the officials and staff appointed by the ETPB for Darbar Sahib Gurdwara.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office, on Thursday, had described India’s position on the issue as “wilful propaganda” and said the PSGPC remains responsible for rituals in gurdwaras, including the one at Kartarpur. The project management unit under the ETPB has “simply been created to facilitate the PSGPC in this regard,” it said in a statement.
India and Pakistan opened a 4.7-kilometre-long cross-border corridor, connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district with Durbar Sahib gurdwara in Kartarpur, a year ago to allow Indian pilgrims to visit the shrine without visas.
India is yet to decide on reopening its part of the corridor, which was shut in March as part of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, following Pakistan’s recent decision to open its side.
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