Dhaka, Bangladesh
Pak to charge $20 entry fee from pilgrims to Kartarpur

Pak to charge $20 entry fee from pilgrims to Kartarpur

New Delhi, Nov 8: Backtracking from its earlier decision, Pakistan on Friday said that it will charge an entry fee of $20 from every pilgrim on the opening day of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9, Saturday. This comes days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a waiver in the said fee for two days, ie, the opening day and on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birthday, according to the Statesman. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier in October requested Imran Khan to withdraw a proposed facilitation charge of $20 (Rs 1,422) for visitors to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan. Meanwhile, on Thursday, ISPR chief Major General Asif Ghafoor was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that Indian Sikh pilgrims would require a passport to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan's Punjab province via the Kartarpur Corridor. Following the reports, Indian Government said that pilgrims travelling to Pakistan to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara will need to carry passports. Indian pilgrims will be allowed entry under a "permit on a passport-based identity", the Pakistani media had reported. Speaking on the development, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar had said that reports coming in from Pakistan are "conflicting". India chided Pakistan for creating confusion over the formal inauguration of the Kartarpur Saheb Corridor while making it clear that the pilgrimage beginning on Saturday should in no way be construed as a precursor to the formal resumption of talks between the two countries. On November 1, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Sikh pilgrims from India would not need a passport to travel to Kartarpur and no fee would be charged on the opening day of the corridor on November 9. In a tweet, Khan said: "For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off two requirements: i) they won't need a passport-just a valid ID; ii)they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee to be charged on day of inauguration and on Guruji's 550th birthday (sic)." The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just about four km from the international border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor in Gurdaspur on Saturday morning, while Khan will declare it open from the other end. On November 22, last year, just a day before the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the Union Cabinet decided to build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the international border for Sikh pilgrims to visit Pakistan. Another report adds: The Government of Pakistan has reportedly invited spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 9. "The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and promotion of religious tourism also coincides with your objective of Violence-Free World," the invitation letter read. However, due to prior commitments, Ravi Shankar will not be attending the ceremony. The historic Kartarpur Corridor, which connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Shaib in Pakistan's Kartarpur, is set to open on Saturday. Meanwhile, it is to be noted that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was one of the members of the mediation panel set up to resolve the Ayodhya land dispute, by the Supreme Court. With the verdict on the controversial title suit to be out before November 17, Ravi Shankar had appealed to the citizens to not entertain or ignite rumours. "People of our country have full faith in the Supreme Court and its verdict will be welcomed by everyone. I appeal to one and all to not entertain or ignite rumours. This is the time to exercise restraint and exhibit our values of brotherhood between communities," the global humanitarian and peace leader had said. Earlier, the Pakistani government had extended an invitation to Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor which the latter had accepted. Meanwhile, according to reports, Sidhu has been allowed by the government to accompany the Sikh 'jatha' that will travel to Darbar Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan via the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9. The Ministry of External Affairs has, however, denied Sidhu, a former state minister in Punjab, the permission to travel to Pakistan via Wagah. Pakistan had also reportedly sent a formal invitation to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the inauguration event. However, Singh will not attend the Kartarpur corridor inauguration on the invite of Pakistan, "but participate in the event as a common pilgrim". Manmohan Singh would be a part of Sikh Jatha delegation led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. They will pay obeisance at the shrine and would return on the same day.

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