Condemning Islamabad’s move to charge a service fee of $20 from pilgrims to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal Saturday compared it with ‘jaziya’ and said the external affairs ministry has taken up the issue with the Pakistan government.
“It is shameful that Pakistan is planning to impose a fee on Sikh pilgrims. It would be like the Jaziya tax,” she said.
‘Jaziya’ or ‘Jizya’ implies a per capita yearly taxation historically levied in the form of financial charge on permanent non-Muslim subjects of a state governed by Islamic law to fund public expenditures of the state.
Harsimrat was talking to media persons after visiting Dera Baba Nanak along with husband and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal and reviewed the ongoing work at the Integrated Check Post.
“Rs 500 crore ICP would be ready by October 31,” she said while urging the Centre to name it as ‘Sat Kartar ICP’. She also urged the Centre to name the Sultanpur Lodhi-ICP Road as Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Marg.
Harsimrat, Sukhbir and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who accompanied them, were also given a presentation on the ongoing work of the ICP including the Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) being built by the Land Port Authority of India.
The ICP is being set up in a fifty acre area and will have a 300 feet flag at its entrance. It will have three lotus petal shaped blocks, which will include the security area, food court and waiting area. The passenger terminal will have 54 immigration counters and the complex will also have a tower restaurant which will also serve as a view point minaret.
Expressing satisfaction at the ongoing work, Harsimrat suggested that multi-media screens be put up in the waiting area to showcase the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. She thanked “the almighty for listening to the countless prayers of the Sikh community to have ‘darshan’ of Kartarpur Sahib”.
SGPC not run by SAD: Sukhbir Badal
Meanwhile, Sukhbir said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is a democratically elected body and not an organisation of his party. “The SGPC is not an organisation of the Akali Dal. It is an organistaion of Sikh ‘panth’ (community) and it is a democratically elected body,” Sukhbir told the media here.
“There is no need for doing politics. The government has its own job to do while religious body has its own. Ever since the SGPC came into being, all the religious programmes had been organised by it. The Congress should not try to create a new history in this regard,” he added.
Last month, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had described the SGPC as a “tool” in the hands of the SAD. Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had accused SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal of being a “puppet in the hands of the Badal family”.
Both Punjab government and SGPC had been at loggerheads over joint celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak next month. The SGPC has decided to hold the main event in a stadium near Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district on November 12 while the state government wanted to hold the function near a “Tent City” coming up there.
Randhawa, who is state government’s representative in the SGPC coordination panel for finalising the celebrations programme, had expressed his annoyance for ignoring the state government in extending invitation to President and Prime Minister for the November 12 function to be held in Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala.
Sukhbir, when asked, said the Congress was “indulging in politics” on the issue of the 550th anniversary celebrations.
He said he was thankful that the Kartarpur corridor had finally come up after decades of efforts including representations made by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to successive Prime Ministers. The corridor as well as events associated with the 550th ‘Parkash Purb’ of Guru Nanak Dev should not be politicised. “There is no need for anyone to get into a credit war as the Guru Nanak Naam Leva Sangat is aware of everything,” he added.