Chandigarh: Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday criticised Imran Khan's government for charging a service fee of USD 20 from pilgrims who will be visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara through the Kartarpur corridor which will be opened for pilgrims in November.
"The $20 fee each charged by Pakistan for Kartarpur Sahib darshan is atrocious," the minister wrote on Twitter. In a video shared with her social media post, Badal said that it is "highly shameful" for Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan if he is considering that the service fee will "boost the economy" of the country and result in earning foreign exchange.
"How will a poor devotee pay this amount? Pakistan has made a business out of faith. Imran Khan's statement that this fee will boost Pakistan's economy and result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful," she added.
The Pakistani government had earlier said that it would charge a service fee of USD 20 from all the devotees who would want to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara. Khan, on Sunday, said that the Kartarpur corridor, which is expected to be visited by Sikhs from all across the world, including India, will be opened for the public on 9 November.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours, according to Pakistan media reports. India and Pakistan have held a series of high-level talks for the operationalisation of the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
India has said that an agreement on all other issues except the matter of service fee has been reached between New Delhi and Islamabad. Pakistan has been insisting on levying a fee of USD 20 on all pilgrims. However, the Indian side has urged the Islamic nation to not charge the proposed fee.
From the Indian side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor. Meanwhile, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that prime minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the project on 9 November, three days before the 550th birth anniversary Baba Guru Nanak.