Other States

Cash rich SGPC should pay $20 fee for Kartarpur pilgrims, says Amarinder Singh

The Punjab Chief Minister calls for ease of travel on Kartarpur Corridor

With quite low footfalls on the newly built Kartarpur corridor, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has asked the “cash rich” Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to pay the $20 per pilgrim fee for travel out of its own coffers, at least to the ‘yellow card holders’ who could not afford it.

Capt. Amarider has also urged the Prime Ministers of both India and Pakistan to waive off carrying the passport as a necessary document for travel through Kartarpur corridor and instead accept other forms of identity. These should be acceptable since there was no requirement of a visa to be stamped on the passport in any case, he added.

Low numbers

“The low number of devotees reportedly crossing over to the historic gurudwara was not because of lack of interest among the people but because of the two conditions of [carrying] passport and [paying] $20 fee. Lakhs of pilgrims were waiting to visit the Kartarpur Gurdwara on this historic 550th Parkash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Devji but were held back because of these problems,” the CM said.

“Though Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had tweeted before the opening of the Corridor that a passport would not be needed for devotees to come through, the decision was not formalised,” Capt. Amarinder pointed out. He urged Mr. Khan, as well as Mr. Modi, to resolve the problem by amending the Memorandum of Understanding.

Pointing to the lavish spends of the SGPC on holding separate programmes to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Chief Minister said it was evident that the religious body had plenty of funds. “However, instead of flaunting their money to appease their ego and make a political point through this religious occasion, they should spend the same on supporting the devotees, especially the poor ‘yellow card’ holders who simply don’t have the money to pay the necessary fee to Pakistan for entering their territory to pay obeisance at the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara,” he said.

‘Help poor pilgrims’

“Why can’t the SGPC and their political masters, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and particularly the Badal family, shell out some money for the actual good of the community?” asked Capt. Amarinder. “Given the huge claims made by SAD president Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat Badal that they were protectors of the Sikh religion, the least they could do was ask the SGPC, which they control, to help out the poor pilgrims, whose dream of visiting Kartarpur Corridor may otherwise never be realised,” he added.

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader and Leader of the Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema also demanded that the government should simplify the process of travelling to Kartarpur by lifting the passport stipulation.

“The existing conditions were a tad tedious, depriving a vast majority of common people from visiting the shrine through the Kartarpur corridor. These conditions should be simplified so that they were not deprived of darshan at the shrine,” he said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:24:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cash-rich-sgpc-should-pay-20-fee-for-kartarpur-pilgrims-says-amarinder-singh/article29963939.ece

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