Amarinder protests Pak move to restrict Kartarpur travel to only Sikhs

Wednesday 30th January 2019 02:08 EST

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has protested against Pakistan's proposal to allow only Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara. He urged the Indian government to take up the issue with Islamabad when the latter sends its draft agreement for regulating entry into its territory through the Kartarpur Corridor. Singh pointed out that Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev was a universal guru revered by followers of all religions, especially Hindus. He said while Islamabad was well within its rights to set terms and conditions relating to its territorial safety and security, it should take into consideration the fact that the first Sikh Guru's ideology is not confined to Sikhs but is emulated by people of all faiths.

The CM said in a statement, “The Sikh ethos prescribes non-discrimination, with even the concept of langar being caste-less service for all. Gurdwaras are open to all, without religious bias. A large number of Hindus in India were ardent followers of Sri Guru Nanak Devji, and it was their cherished dream to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, which was closely associated with the first Sikh Guru. There was for years the tradition of Hindu families converting their eldest sons to Sikhism. The influence of Sikhism in India was so strong that to exclude members of other religions was not something that Pakistan government should even remotely consider.”

He added, “To keep such followers out of Kartarpur Sahib just because they were not Sikh was not logical.” The CM also objected to the condition of the number of pilgrims proposed in the draft agreement by the Pakistani government. He said, “It is not correct to limit the number of people to 15 in a group. Individual yatris should be permitted.” He said that the restriction of 500 pilgrims per day should also not be there, especially in November this year, when the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev will be celebrated. He expressed concern at the reported clause making a passport imperative for travel by pilgrims. “With Punjab's large rural population having no passports, such a move would deprive them of making the historic pilgrimage.”

The CM urged the governments of India and Pakistan to sit across the table and thrash out all issues to facilitate smooth and hassle-free travel by pilgrims through the corridor before coming to a formal agreement in the regard. “Such regressive steps, as were reportedly being considered by the Pakistan government, to control entry through the corridor would negate the positive initiative taken by their government and it is up to the Indian government to resolve all such issues amicably so that the pilgrims get the maximum benefit from the historic decision of the two nations,” Amarinder Singh added.

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