Congress leader and Lok Sabha member from Punjab Manish Tewari on Tuesday called Pakistan’s decision to charge $20 each from every pilgrim to the holy Sikh shrine of Kartarpur as ‘jazia’ (religious tax) and asked the Government of India to pay the charge.
“If Pakistan insists on USD 20 Dollar Fee for Kartarpur pilgrims and India signs agreement on 23rd October 2019, then NDA/BJP Govt should undertake to pay that Jazia Tax in MOU itself. Paying to visit Kartarpur Sahib goes against grain of “KHULE DARSHAN in Holy Ardas,” Mr. Tewari tweeted.
India and Pakistan are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the opening of the Kartarpur corridor –linking India to the Kartarpur Gurdwara where Guru Nanak Dev spent his last days – on Wednesday but is now likely to be delayed by a day.
Both the Centre as well as the Punjab government have asked Islamabad to reconsider its demand of charging $20 service fee from a pilgrim as it went against the philosophy of ‘khule darshan’ (open visit).
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was a “matter of disappointment that Pakistan continues to insist levying a service fee of USD 20 per pilgrim per visit”.
To commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12, the corridor is being built by India and Pakistan to connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Darbara Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of the founder of the Sikh religion.