India and Pakistan are unlikely to sign the agreement on Kartarpur Corridor on October 23 as announced by the MEA earlier, reported news agency ANI, citing sources. On Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that the government of India would be ready to sign the agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, allowing visa free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib to thousands of Sikh pilgrims, on Wednesday. However, the ministry had added that it has once again urged Pakistan to remove the USD 20 felicitation charge from Indian pilgrims for visiting the holy shrine.
“In view of the long pending demand of pilgrims to have visa free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib and in the interest of operationalisation of Kartarpur Corridor in time before 12 Nov, Government conveys that we would be ready to sign Agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on October 23,” the MEA had said.
India has criticised Pakistan for charging USD 20 from pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara through the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today said that it is "highly shameful" for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to think that the service fee will boost his country's economy.
"The $20 fee each charged by Pak for Kartarpur Sahib darshan is atrocious. How will a poor devotee pay this amount? Pakistan has made a business out of faith. @ImranKhanPTI's statement that this fee will boost Pak's economy & result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful," Harsimrat said in a tweet.
Despite repeated requests from Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Centre, Pakistan was adamant on imposing the facilitation charge. In the final draft proposal sent to India earlier this month, Islamabad made it clear that every pilgrim from India will have to pay USD 20 to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. Although India has once agin asked Pakistan to reconsider its decision, Pakistan is highly unlikley to give up its plan as the ties between the two countries has been strained over the last few years.
India and Pakistan have decided to build a special corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district. The Indian side of the Kartarpur corridor, which is likely to facilitate the visa-free travel of Sikh pilgrims on both sides, is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.