Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday appealed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to withdraw the USD20 service fee imposed by his government on pilgrims visiting teh Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.
"I appeal to @ImranKhanPTI to withdraw $20 fee imposed by @PakGovernment on pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib to facilitate 'khulle darshan deedar' of the final resting place of Guru Nanak Ji Sahib. The world Sikh community will be grateful for this gesture on the part of Islamabad," Amarinder said in tweet.
In a statement later, Singh pointed out that a pilgrimage to the historic gurdwara, which was revered the world over as the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, was the fulfilment of a cherished dream for the entire Sikh community.
The imposition of the fee as well as other conditions like a mandatory passport and a 30-day prior online notice would obstruct the realisation of the dream of the pilgrims, many of whom are poor and cannot afford such a fee and also have no access of the internet, he said.
"Let these people not be deprived of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for 'khulle darshan' (free access) of the historic Gurdwara," he added.
Pointing out that the development of the Kartarpur Corridor was aimed at providing free access to the pilgrims during the 550th 'Prakash Purb' celebrations of the first Sikh guru, Singh said these difficult pre-conditions would defeat the very objective.
By agreeing to construct the corridor, the Pakistan government had made a very laudable gesture, which the Sikh community really appreciated, the chief minister said, adding that the Imran Khan government should follow it up with the gesture of revoking its decision to impose the service fee and also easing other restrictions it had announced on the devotees.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi river.
The corridor will be thrown open to pilgrims in November this year to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)