New Delhi / Roadblock in Kartarpur talks as India rejects 2 Pakistan demands

India Today : Sep 04, 2019, 02:52 PM

India on Wednesday rejected two demands made by Pakistan regarding the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor agreement.

After the third round of talks held between the two countries, India has asked Pakistan to reconsider two demands it made at today's meeting.

The agreement could not be finalised as Pakistan insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib and also showed its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian Consular or protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises.

These two conditions were unacceptable to the Indian delegation. Meanwhile, an agreement was reached on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims without any restrictions based on faith. Individuals of Indian origin holding Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card can also visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit Holy Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Corridor every day while additional pilgrims, over and above the figure of 5,000, can visit on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion by Pakistan side. Pakistan has conveyed its solemn commitment to increase this number to the maximum possible.

Both the delegations also agreed to build the bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel. The delegations also agreed to share temporary crossing point coordinates till the construction of the bridge is completed on the Pakistani side.

Most importantly, both sides have also agreed upon maintaining a secure environment for the movement of pilgrims. However, when India once again requested Pakistan to allow protocol officers to accompany pilgrims every day, the Pakistan delegation did not agree to this demand.

The third round of meeting between delegates of India and Pakistan to discuss and finalise the draft agreement from the operationalisation of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims was held in Attari on Wednesday.

A 20-member Pakistani delegation crossed over to India for the joint secretary-level meeting at Attari in Amritsar, they said.

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.