Hitting out at Pakistan after a poster of slain Khalistani leaders appeared in an official video released by Islamabad welcoming Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur, India on Thursday said that it is an attempt to undermine the spirit of the pilgrimage. It also demanded the video and printed media be removed.
“We condemn Pakistan’s attempt to undermine the spirit under which the pilgrimage is supposed to be undertaken. We have lodged a strong protest,” the Ministry of External Affair spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“We have been assured repeatedly by the Pakistani side during our discussions that they will not allow any anti-India elements and propaganda during the. We demand that they remove the objectionable video and printed material which is being circulated,” Kumar added.
The Indian Express first reported that posters of Khalistani separatist leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Maj Gen Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa were shown in a poster in the background of the official Punjabi song released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The three Khalistani leaders were killed in June 1984 when the Indian Army stormed Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star to free it from the separatists holed inside.
“India to stick to Kartarpur agreement “
Reacting to reports of Pakistan Army saying that Indian devotees visiting Kartarpur will be needing a passport, MEA said that conflicting reports are coming from Pakistan on whether Indian pilgrims will require passport to visit the Darbar Sahib shrine using the new facility.
“We think there are differences between their Foreign Office and other agencies. We have an MoU, it hasn’t been changed and as per it passport is needed,” Kumar said, adding that Pakistan cannot make amendments unilaterally. He also said that an agreement was signed between the two countries finalising the modalities for visits by Indian pilgrims and India will stick to it.
On November 1, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said he had waived two requirements relating to passport and registering 10 days in advance for Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India.
The Kartarpur corridor, scheduled to be opened on November 9, links the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan – the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
This year marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace is Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. The corridor has been established to commemorate his birth anniversary.
(Inputs from PTI)