The Congress has launched a scathing attack on Kartapur Corridor's proposed fee that Pakistan says it will charge ($20) from each pilgrim. The official signing of the corridor is due on 23 October.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said: "If Pakistan insists on $20 fee for Kartarpur pilgrims and India signs the agreement, then the NDA/BJP government should undertake to pay that 'jazia' tax in the MoU itself. Paying to visit Kartarpur Sahib goes against the grain of 'Khule darshan' and holy 'ardas'".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to flag off the first 'jatha' on 9 November. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has tweeted that the first jatha will consist of 550 pilgrims.
The PM is also scheduled to inaugurate an integrated check post. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is going to visit the Kartarpur shrine. However, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declined the Pakistani invite, and sources say he may be part of an intra-party delegation to Kartarpur.
The Ministry of External Affairs has released an official statement, saying that It is a matter of disappointment that while an understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continues to insist on levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit.
The government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee.
The Congress is targeting government for bowing to Pakistan.
The Ministry's official statement said the government has taken the initiative to put in place a state-of-the-art infrastructure and open the Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev so that the pilgrims from India and those holding Overseas Citizen of India Card could undertake a visit to the holy gurudwara in Pakistan.
The 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak falls on 12 November 2019.
While agreeing to sign the agreement, Pakistan has been urged to reconsider its insistence on levying service fee on pilgrims. India would be ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time, said the Ministry release.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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