Kartarpur talks stalled as Pak demands service fee from pilgrims

Talks on the Kartarpur corridor hit a roadblock today after India refused to entertain Pakistan’s demand of charging pilgrims a service fee to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. The demand was sprung in the third round of talks between both countries at Attari to finalise the draft agreement of the project.

Reacting to the demand, Union minister Harsimrat Badal said: “I’m shocked that Pakistan is making such a demand; they want to charge a community which wants to offer prayers.” She added, “It’s evident that they are trying to create roadblocks, as the plan has been in the works for one-and-a-half years and only two months are left for the corridor to open.”

Pakistan also expressed its unwillingness to allow Indian consular or protocol officials at Kartarpur gurdwara premises. In the third round of talks, both sides, however, agreed on visa-free travel of pilgrims and allowing 5,000 of them to use the corridor every day. It was further decided that the Kartarpur corridor would be operational throughout the year, seven days a week.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

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