Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday appealed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to withdraw the $20 fee imposed by his government on pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.
The Chief Minister tweeted his appeal to Khan, saying: “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.”
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 30-day prior online notice by the devotees, would obstruct the realisation of the dream of the pilgrims, many of whom were poor men and women who could not afford such fee and also had no access of the Internet, said the Chief Minister.
“Let these people not be deprived of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for ‘khulle darshan’ 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 birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru, Singh said these difficult pre-conditions would defeat this very objective.
By agreeing to construct the corridor, the Pakistan government had made a very laudable gesture, which the Sikh community really appreciated, said the Chief Minister, adding that the Imran Khan government should follow it up with the gesture of revoking its decision to impose the pilgrimage fee and also easing other restrictions it had announced on the devotees.