India lodges protests with Pakistan for inciting Sikh pilgrims

Florence Fletcher
April 17, 2018

This comes a day after the MEA alleged that Pakistani authorities had prevented the Sikh pilgrims visiting Punja Sahib gurudwara from meeting the Indian envoy, who was prevented from going there. "The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah Railway Station on April 12", the MEA said in a statement.

India on Monday lodged strong protest at Pakistan for inciting Sikh pilgrims who have converged from all over world to celebrate Baisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib located in Hasan Abdal.

The damning report card issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said people continue to disappear in Pakistan, sometimes because they criticise the country's powerful military or because they advocate better relations with neighbouring India.

"A Jatha of around 1800 Sikh yatris has been travelling in Pakistan from April 12, under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines".

Pakistan's deputy high commissioner was summoned and informed about the strong condemnation by India on such efforts by Pakistan, said the statement.

The total number of Sikh visitors visiting Pakistan this year is 1,800.

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According to the statement, the Indian consular team was also denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on Saturday for a scheduled meeting with the pilgrims there. Also, the reports are claiming that commission from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens.

"In view of the charged situation and the explicit refusal of the Sikh Yatrees to meet Indian officials, the Indian high commissioner cancelled his visit on April 14, 2018", the spokesperson said and added that "Indian attempts to distort the truth and obfuscate facts are unethical and regrettable". New Delhi has continued to grant visas - even emergency visas -for Pakistanis seeking medical treatment in India.

Later on Saturday, however, the matter was raised with the Foreign Office in Islamabad and the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and a "protest" was lodged.

"He further said that the members of the Sikh community appreciate the assistance and cooperation extended to them during their visits to sacred places in Pakistan". "Despite that, we have seen that a wrongful version has been presented to mislead the public opinion", said the Pakistan Foreign Ministry's statement.

India has rightly reminded Pakistan that it was violating the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974, and the diplomatic code of conduct, which was recently reaffirmed by both countries.

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