Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

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

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

Reacting to New Delhi's action, Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said, "By spreading such falsehoods, India has chosen to deliberately stoke further controversy around the visit of Sikh pilgrims, now attending the Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin ceremonies in Pakistan".

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". "The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah Railway Station on April 12", the MEA said in a statement.

Gopal Singh Chawla, under the instructions from the Pakistani authorities, recently stopped Indian officials from entering Gurudwara Panja Sahib on April 14 (Baisakhi day).

Earlier Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was prevented from going to Gurdwara Punja Sahib over the weekend while Indian diplomats were again prevented on Monday from meeting the visiting Indian Sikh pilgrims.

It said High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was thus compelled to return without meeting Indian citizens. New Delhi has continued to grant visas - even emergency visas -for Pakistanis seeking medical treatment in India. The statement said travel permission was promptly granted. The Indian High Commission officials, after due deliberation, conveyed back to ETPB their agreement to call off the visit in view of such a situation.

Pakistan has made arrangements to extend maximum facilitation to the visiting Sikh pilgrims during their visits to sacred places in Pakistan, the FO said.

In a statement from its foreign office on Sunday, Pakistan had denied these charges.

Islamabad also accused New Delhi of twisting the facts and presenting "a wrongful version" of the events from Saturday "to mislead the public opinion". However, the concerned officials of the Indian High Commission chose not to return, although they were duly notified that the requisite clearance has been granted. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is built on the historic site where first Sikh master Guru Nanak had settled with his followers.

Pakistan today rejected Indian allegations of "attempts to incite Indian pilgrims" on the issue of 'Khalistan'. "Moreover, such incidents during the visit of the Indian pilgrims went against the spirit of the bilateral Protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries", the MEA said.

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