India protests as Pakistan stops Sikh pilgrims from meeting diplomats

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India protested at the attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the Khalistan issue by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters at various places of pilgrims visit, an Indian foreign ministry statement said. New Delhi lodged a strong protest and summoned the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner over the developments.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that "Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India's sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India".

In August a year ago, 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".

It had said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

"Considering an emotionally charged environment and the possibility of any untoward situation, the ETPB authorities contacted the Indian High Commission officials and suggested cancellation of the visit", Faisal claimed.

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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. On April 12, after reaching Wagha - the first station after train crosses over to Pakistan, the Sikh pilgrims were not allowed to meet the officials.

"For decades, Pakistan has made excellent arrangements to facilitate the visits of Sikh Yatrees from across the world, including India, and extended protocol, reception, security, medical and other facilities".

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

"The matter relating to the protocol team's access on the arrival of the jatha at Wagha was expeditiously resolved through the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs". ".these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct [for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan] of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries", it said.

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