Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday urged Pakistan to remove “unreasonable restrictions” put on the entry of Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib by using the under-construction Kartarpur Corridor.
Addressing a Press conference, the SAD president said Pakistan has put a cap on the number of devotees to 700 per day and that too for a restricted number of days per year.
“Entry fee and permit costs proposed by Pakistan for pilgrims are also very high at Rs 1,600 per person on normal days and Rs 8,000 per person on special days. Pakistan also proposes to restrict this facility for only Indian nationals and People of Indian Origin (NRIs) cannot access it,” the SAD leader added.
Stating that all these conditions were unreasonable, Sukhbir urged the Pakistan government to have a large heart.
“Unreasonable restrictions will mean that the Sikh ardas for “Khulla darshan deedare” will remain unfulfilled. The Pakistan government should waive off the permit and entry fee for devotees and allow entry of 5,000 devotees on normal days and 15,000 on special days,” he added.
Sukhbir thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government of India for taking up the speedy construction of the Kartapur Corridor. He said the Union government had expeditiously started work on a world class and state of the art passenger terminal building complex as well as an all-weather bridge on the Ravi River to facilitate unrestricted and easy flow of pilgrims.
As much as 50 acres of land had been acquired for project works worth Rs 290 crore.
“The passenger terminal building will be completed by October 2019 and national highway connecting zero point to the national highway will be completed by September 2019,” he added.
While appreciating the speed with which the Kartarpur Corridor was coming up on the Indian territory, the SAD president said it was unfortunate that the Pakistan government was indulging in double speak.
“Pakistan is mouthing platitudes about the work it is taking up to make the Kartarpur Corridor a reality but the reality is that it is constructing a mere causeway on its side instead of a 320-meter bridge,” Sukhbir said.
Speaking about the steps taken by the Prime Minister to resolve the long pending issues of the Sikh community, Sukhbir said Sikhs worldwide were thankful to Narendra Modi for establishing the SIT which opened all cases which had been discharged earlier.
He said this had led to the conviction of Sajjan Kumar. “The case of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath has also been reopened and the Home Ministry has written to the court for the establishment of dedicated fast track courts to try 1984 genocide cases,” the SAD president said.
Sukhbir said the Union government had accepted the SAD request and scrapped the local blacklist of Sikhs maintained by Indian Missions in countries like Canada, the USA, UK and Germany.