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Pakistan blocking consular access to Sikh pilgrims; India lodges protest

India has lodged a strong protest pointing out that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

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today lodged a strong protest with over blocking of access of visiting to Indian diplomats in that country and even "compelling" the to return while on way to a prominent gurudwara there.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a group of around 1800 are on a visit to from April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.

In a statement, the also said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to yesterday.

The called it an "inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy" by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

"has lodged a strong protest with over a block of access for visiting pilgrims to Indian diplomats and consular teams," it said in a statement.

The fresh incidents came, over two weeks after and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other's diplomats.

The said the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, who was to visit at the invitation of the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), was suddenly asked to return while en route the shrine yesterday, for unspecified 'security' reasons.

It said the High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was thus compelled to return without meeting Indian citizens.

"India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan against this inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy, pointing out that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries," the MEA said.

On not allowing the pilgrims to meet Indian diplomats, it said a standard practice has been that the Indian High Commission's consular/protocol team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies.

"However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at on April 12. Similarly, it was denied entry into on April 14, for a scheduled meeting with pilgrims there. The High Commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens," it said.

First Published: Sun, April 15 2018. 16:04 IST
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