New Delhi: Labelling the USD 20 service fee proposed by Pakistan for each Kartarpur pilgrim as "jazia tax", Congress leader Manish Tewari said on Tuesday that the BJP government should bear the cost as a Sikh devotee paying for the visit to the gurudwara goes against the grain of "khule darshan" (open darshan).
India and Pakistan are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on October 23 for the opening of the Kartarpur corridor that will link the Indian side through a corridor to the Kartarpur gurdwara, where first Sikh guru Nanak Dev spent his last days. New Delhi has asked Islamabad to reconsider its demand of charging USD 20 service fee a pilgrim.
"If Pakistan insists on USD 20 Dollar Fee for Kartarpur pilgrims and India signs agreement on 23rd October 2019, then NDA/BJP Govt should undertake to pay that Jazia Tax in MOU itself. Paying to visit Kartarpur Sahib goes against grain of "KHULE DARSHAN in Holy Ardas," he said on Twitter.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also urged the Pakistani authorities to reconsider the imposition of USD 20 fee per pilgrim as it went against the concept of "khuile darshan" (open visit).
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a statement, said it is a "matter of disappointment that Pakistan continues to insist levying a service fee of USD 20 per pilgrim per visit".
The corridor is being built by India and Pakistan to connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism on November 12.