New Delhi :
The MEA has urged Pakistan not to levy a fee of USD 20 on Indian pilgrims saying that the Kartarpur project is Peer-2-Peer (P2P) initiative. “Pakistan insists on levying a fee of USD 20 (approx. Rs. 1420) on all pilgrims. We've urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees, and also because this is a P2P initiative. We hope that the Agreement can be concluded & signed in time for the great event,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh slammed Pakistan for demanding USD 20 as service charge from Indian pilgrims, saying it amounted to issuing a "ticket" on visiting the historic gurdwara in Kartarpur in the neighbouring country.
Pointing out that devotees would be placing 'chadawa' (offerings) at the gurdwara of their own volition anyway, Singh said Sikhism propounds 'khulle darshan', an ideology that Pakistan seemed bent on violating.
Last month, Amarinder had equated the service charge to "jaziya" (a tax on non-Muslims).
"It is tantamount to putting a ticket on visiting the gurdwara. How will the poor pilgrims pay this amount," he asked here.
The Punjab government, said Amarinder, was working closely with the Centre to ensure that all infrastructure-related and other works for the Kartarpur Corridor are completed well in time.
He hoped that Pakistan too would meet its promised deadline to make the 550th 'Prakash Purb' truly historic for the Sikh community.
Amarinder Singh made it clear that he would not be visiting Pakistan but would merely go through the special corridor to visit Kartarpur Gurdwara Sahib.
The chief minister said Pakistan was making all-out efforts to revive terrorism in Punjab, asserting that his government was fully prepared to tackle the threat. The security forces are on alert and geared to meet any eventuality, he said.
The Kartarpur Corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit the Kartarpur Sahib located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi river.
The corridor will be thrown open to pilgrims in November to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the Kartarpur Corridor.