Harsimrat calls $20 charge on Kartarpur visit ‘shameful, atrocious’

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has slammed Pakistan for charging a service fee of $20 from pilgrims who will be visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara through the Kartarpur corridor which will be opened for pilgrims in November.

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Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Harsimrat called the move ‘shameful’ and ‘atrocious’. Asking how a poor devotee will pay this amount, she criticised Pakistan saying that the Imran Khan government has made a business out of faith.

“The $20 fee each charged by Pak for #KartarpurSahib darshan is atrocious. How will a poor devotee pay this amount? Pakistan has made a business out of faith. @ImranKhanPTI’s statement that this fee will boost Pak’s economy & result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful,” she tweeted.

The Pakistani government had earlier said that it would levy a service fee of $20 from all the devotees who would want to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara. Khan, on Sunday, said that the Kartarpur corridor, which is expected to be visited by Sikhs from all across the world, including India, will be opened for the public on November 9.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The corridor will 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. The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours, according to reports.

India and Pakistan have held a series of high-level talks for the operationalisation of the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev. India has said that an agreement on all other issues except the matter of service fee has been reached between New Delhi and Islamabad. Pakistan has been insisting on levying the fee on all pilgrims. However, the Indian side has urged its neighbour to not charge the proposed fee.

From the Indian side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor. Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the project on November 9, three days before the 550th birth anniversary Baba Guru Nanak.