A fortnight after Pakistan sent a 14-point proposal to India as agreement for visa-free pilgrimage to Kartarpur Sahib, the Punjab government has raised objections to several conditions, including entry on passport for the pilgrims.
The state government put its point across to the Centre during a meeting between Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The state government has contended that the Centre should agree on a passport waiver for pilgrims. Most villagers, the state has pointed out, do not possess a passport, and keeping passports mandatory for those undertaking the pilgrimage across the border would come as a damper for many.
Punjab has contended that pilgrims should be allowed access on the basis of Aadhaar card, which is a valid legal document and nearly 99 per cent of the state’s population possesses it.
The state government has also objected to the cap on the daily number of pilgrims. As per Pakistan’s agreement, the country would allow 500 pilgrims every day. The state government contends that all pilgrims who want to visit the historic gurdwara should be allowed.
The state also has an objection to the six-hour window during which pilgrims will be allowed, as per Pakistan’s proposal. Punjab wants this window to be extended to allow pilgrims maximum time.
The state has also sought a clarification on multiple entry of pilgrims, as many of them would want to organise an Akhand Path in the gurdwara. For this, the state has reasoned, the pilgrims would need to undertake multiple visits.
After receiving the proposal from Pakistan, sources said, the Centre forwarded it to the state government and sought its comments. The objections were decided after inputs from the state intelligence, it is learnt.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and raised these points.
In a statement, the government said Amarinder has sought waiver of passport condition for pilgrims to cross the border to let them have “khulle darshan deedar” of Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
He also asked the Centre to quickly finalise the alignment of road access and the consequent infrastructure to be built around the corridor so that the process of land acquisition may start without delay and the pilgrimage starts at the earliest.
The letter also stated that the Centre should create adequate infrastructure at the border crossing to handle the large number of pilgrims expected to use Kartarpur corridor.