The Hindu – Kartarpur talks: India will urge Pakistan to not utilise shrine for Khalistan propaganda

Visa related issues will be discussed.

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 13 March 2019. India will urge Pakistan to not utilise the holy Kartarpur shrine for propaganda about the Khalistan issue, sources said here on Wednesday.

The issue is part of the security concerns that is being considered by the Indian side as paramount for the bilateral talks that will be held in Attari on Thursday.

“We would like to see that Pakistan doesn’t use the presence of pilgrims from India in Kartarpur shrine for propaganda purposes on the Khalistan issue,” said a source aware of India’s plans for Thursday’s talks that will finalise the details of the religious corridor project on the ground.

The talks that will focus on the essential features of the draft agreement on the religious corridor project has already created a controversy after Pakistan alleged that India did not grant visas for Pakistani journalists for the meeting.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman took to social media to argue that Pakistan had granted visas to more than 30 Indian journalists who covered the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony in Pakistan last year.

Sources said Thursday’s event will not a public event and therefore India had decided to keep it limited to official level.

Facilities for pilgrims

The project will include a vast facility for the pilgrims on the Indian side which will be ready to host at least 5,000 pilgrims on any given day. It was learnt that India will also prepare for “surge” in pilgrims flow during special, festive seasons. Accordingly facilities will be created for at least 10,000 more pilgrims on the facilities on the Indian side.

India has acquired 50 acres of land for the facility for the pilgrims to be built in Khanda style which represents oneness of the humanity. The infrastructure would be built in two phases and the first phase will spread over 15 acres of land. The Passenger Terminal Building will be the main structure around which the rest of the land will be developed.

Prefabricated structure

The prefabricated structure is expected to be ready by the time 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak is celebrated in November this year.

The talks between Indian and Pakistani delegations on Wednesday will deliberate upon the passport and visa related issues. The Indian position, sources said is one of making the holy shrine available to “optimal” number of people.
“We are looking for visa-free travel facilities for 5,000 Indian pilgrims in the first phase itself,” said a source elaborating on the Indian position for the talks.

The talks will also include discussion over mismatch between the alignment of Indian and Pakistan designs. The facility that India will build on the Indian side of the project will include 54 immigration counters for processing the paper works necessary for the visit to the gurdwara which is one of the holiest shrines associated with Sikh religion.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kartarpur-talks-india-will-urge-pakistan-to-not-utilise-shrine-for-khalistan-propaganda/article26525236.ece

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