Likening Pakistan’s proposed facilitation charge on Indian pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara to ‘Jizya’ or ‘Jaziya’, a tax imposed in earlier times on non-Muslims in Muslim countries, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on September 19 (Thursday) reiterated his demand for the immediate withdrawal of this service tax by Pakistan.
Punjab CM’s Office: Comparing it with `Jizya’ (Jazia), a tax imposed in earlier times on non-Muslims in Muslim countries, CM Captain Amarinder Singh has reiterated his demand for immediate withdrawal by Pakistan of the proposed facilitation charges on visitors to #KartarpurSahib. pic.twitter.com/tsDhQew0nJ
— ANI (@ANI) September 19, 2019
Pointing out that this controversial and regressive tax was abolished by Mughal Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar during his rule, the Chief Minister said the proposed Pakistani service charge of $20 per visitor was against the basic spirit of Sikh ideology of allowing ‘khulle darshan deedar’ of the gurdwaras or Sikh shrines which remained in Pakistan after partition.
Amarinder Singh, in an informal media interaction, during his visit to Dera Baba Nanak and Zero Line with his Cabinet where he reviewed the progress of the Kartarpur corridor construction work, said that he has already sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to pressurise Pakistan into withdrawing its proposed service charge and suggested that the Minister of External Affairs take up the matter in the bilateral meetings in this regard.
The Punjab CM expressed confidence that the work on the Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side would be completed by October 30, though he expressed concern about the pace of progress on the Pakistani side. “Inspected the construction work of the Kartarpur Corridor in Dera Baba Nanak. Met with the officials concerned who have assured me that the ongoing work will be completed by 30th October and the corridor will be open in time for the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” Singh said.
On November 22 last year, the government of India had announced its intention to build the Indian side of the Kartarpur Corridor and had urged Pakistan to reciprocate by building the corridor on Pakistan side.
On September 4, the third round of talks between India and Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor ended without reaching an agreement.
India rejected Pakistan’s proposal of charging a service fee for visiting the Gurudwara. Pakistan was also unwilling to allow the presence of Indian Consular or Protocol Officials at the Gurudwara premises. These hurdles prevented an agreement from being reached.
This was the second meeting on the Kartarpur Corridor issue between the two countries after the abrogation of Article 370. Amidst tensions between the two countries, it was reported earlier that the Pakistani establishment wants to revive Khalistani terrorism through the corridor.