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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Kartarpur pilgrimage: Devotees upset about delay in registration

Officials said online registration of devotees visiting the historic gurdwara in Pakistan could not be started as India and Pakistan have not yet agreed upon on a number of issues, including Islamabad’s insistence of charging $20 from each pilgrim

india Updated: Oct 21, 2019 22:55 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Officials had earlier said online registration for pilgrims visiting Kartarpur was expected to start on October 20
Officials had earlier said online registration for pilgrims visiting Kartarpur was expected to start on October 20
         

Devotees aspiring to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur through the corridor to attend the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak are upset over delay in online registration by the Union government.

Government officials on Sunday said the online registration of devotees visiting the historic gurdwara in Pakistan could not be started as India and Pakistan have not yet agreed upon on a number of issues, including Islamabad’s insistence of charging $20 from each pilgrim.

On October 16, chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India and additional secretary of the ministry of home affairs Govind Mohan said the online registration for pilgrims visiting Kartarpur is expected to start on October 20.

Reacting to the delay, Baba Sukhdeep Singh Bedi, descendant of Guru Nanak who lives in Dera Baba Nanak, said: “Only a few days are left for the opening of the Kartarpur corridor but the delay in the online registrations process has upset devotees. It will be good if the process starts on time.”

“It is an international project. So everything should be done in advance to operationalise the corridor. Sikh devotes are desperate to visit Kartarpur through this corridor. So, their disappointment over the delay is natural,” said Kulwant Singh Ankhi, an Amritsar-based crusader active in ensuring promotion of religious tourism.

“No need to panic as this is a petty issue. When governments of both the countries have decided to open the corridor, there is no need to worry. Delay in the registration process is not a big issue,” said Punjab animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who belongs to Gurdaspur district.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gobind Singh Longowal said: “Disagreement between two countries on some issues is the main reason behind the delay but we want the issues be settled at the earliest.”

Commenting on the $20 service charge per pilgrim imposed by the Pakistan government, Ankhi said: “This is not an issue for Sikhs. They are ready to pay $20 for visiting the holy shrine across the border. You know Pakistan is poor country and it is facilitating citizens of the other country. So, we have no problem with the charges and the Indian government should go ahead without bothering about it. To facilitate the pilgrims, the Punjab government should bear all expenses to ferry them from Delhi to Dera Baba Nanak.”

BS Goraya, who played key role in mobilising the Sikhs in demanding opening of the corridor, said: “The Union government is unnecessarily making an excuse of service charges. Pakistan is a Muslim country but it spent ₹200 crore on the corridor. This burden should not be passed on the people of Pakistan.”