Pakistani Sikh leadership demands extension of pilgrimage duration, meets PM Shehbaz Sharif
AMRITSAR: The demand of doing away with the US $20 service fee charged by the Pakistan government from every Indian devotee going on a day long piligrmage to
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib
, Kartapur Sahib, Pakistan, is now being raised from within Pakistan.
The issue has been taken up by Pakistani Sikh leadership which is also pursuing the Pakistan government to extend the duration of the current pilgrimage from the existing dawn to dusk to twenty-four hour yatra.
Ramesh Singh Arora, member, Provincial Assembly, Pakistan told TOI on Sunday that he had held a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and urged him to consider scrapping the service fee and increasing the yatra duration to 24 hours.
Notably, the Pakistan government charges a US $20 service fee from every Indian devotee visiting through
from India for a day-long visit to
where Sikh’s first master Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.
“ Yatree sanu kehnday ny ki tusi mattha takken day ve US $ lande ho, jo ki bara bura lagda hai (we feel bad when pilgrims say that we charge US $ 20 for paying obeisance),” said Ramesh, who is also the chairman of the standing committee on Human Rights and Minorities Affairs, Pakistan.
He said the Sikh leadership of Pakistan had also urged PM Sharif to extend the duration of Indian Sikh pilgrims arriving at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through
Corridor, since the Indian devotees miss significant religious rituals of amrit vela (early morning time) and sandhya vela (evening time).
Ramesh said that they have over fifty rooms and dormitories to accommodate devotees from India at Kartarpur Sahib and if need arises, they would make extra arrangements to meet any number of devotees from India.
Presently, around 300 pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib via Kartarpur Corridor which was inaugurated on November 9, 2019.
“I have also extended an invitation to the prime minister to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib, and Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to celebrate parkash utsav (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev on November 8,” said Ramesh Singh, adding that the prime minister gave a patient hearing and assured consideration of their demands.
He said he was hopeful that PM Sharif would concede to the demand of the Sikh masses which would not only increase the number of devotees visiting but would also fulfill their religious aspirations by taking part in early morning and evening religious rituals.