India summons Pak Deputy High Commissioner over 'attempts to raise Khalistan issue'

Lifestyle       by Aleena Raheel | Published

India on Monday summoned Pakistan's deputy high commissioner in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest at attempts by Islamabad to incite Sikh pilgrims to raise the issue of Khalistan on their return to India.

India also presented a strong condemnation to Pakistan for blocking consular access to Sikh pilgrims visiting that country since April 12, under a bilateral agreement that eases the process to visit religious shrines.

"The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at the Wagah railway Station on April 12". However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims.

In August past year, a parliamentary standing committee headed by former Union minister Shashi Tharoor in its report presented in the Lok Sabha had said, "The committee visited Dera Baba Nanak and came across the long-pending demand of people for establishment of an exclusive corridor from the Indian side to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through which pilgrims can pay homage without any visa or passport". Thus, the commissioner was prevented from carrying out his protocol duties. Shah was called in to register India's objection to Pakistan making inflammatory remarks and displaying posters with such messages at places where the pilgrims visited.

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Photographic evidence has emerged that Pakistan based terror-outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) are backing Sikh militants with an aim to malign India, as LeT's chief Hafiz Saeed is seen with Sikh militant leader Gopal Singh Chawla in Lahore. New Delhi has continued to grant visas - even emergency visas -for Pakistanis seeking medical treatment in India.

It said the Sikh community has been protesting against the Government of India for screening a controversial movie in India, which hurts their religious sentiments. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is built on the historic site where first Sikh master Guru Nanak had settled with his followers.

On Saturday, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, who was to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at the invitation of the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), was told to return while en route to the shrine for unspecified "security" reasons. It has been mired in controversies with protests from Sikhs asking for a ban on the film.

Dawn reports that India's allegations came a day after Pakistan's Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa called for a "comprehensive and meaningful dialogue" between India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir.

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