Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday likened Pakistan's proposed facilitation charge on Indian pilgrims visiting the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara to Jizya or Jizyah tax and reiterated his demand for its immediate withdrawal. Jizya was the tax imposed on non-muslims living in a Muslim country and was abolished by Mughal Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar.
Amarinder Singh, who visited Dera Baba Nanak and Zero Line with his Cabinet to review all preparatory arrangements, said that the proposed service tax of USD 20 on each visitor was against the Sikh ideology of allowing 'khulle darshan deedar' that remained a pratice in Pakistan even after the Partition.
The Punjab chief minister also sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention into the matter and asked him to pressurise Paksitan to withdraw the planned facilitation charge. He also suggested that the matter should be raised by the Indian External Affairs Minsiter during the bilateral meetings on the Kartarpur corridor.
"Inspected the construction work of the Kartarpur Corridor in Dera Baba Nanak. Met with the officials concerned who have assured me that the ongoing work will be completed by 30th October and the corridor will be open in time for the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev Ji," Singh said.
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 byb 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.