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India Protests Over Pakistan Denying Consular Access to Sikh Pilgrims

17 April 2018

"Moreover, such incidents during the visit of Indian pilgrims go against the spirit of the bilateral protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries".

"However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims".

Photographic evidence has emerged that Pakistan based terror-outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) are backing Sikh militants with an aim to malign India, as LeT's chief Hafiz Saeed is seen with Sikh militant leader Gopal Singh Chawla in Lahore.

Earlier Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was prevented from going to Gurdwara Punja Sahib over the weekend while Indian diplomats were again prevented on Monday from meeting the visiting Indian Sikh pilgrims.

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Islamabad yesterday called India's protest over consular access "ironic" and claimed that New Delhi, too, "twice within this year denied visas to Pakistani pilgrims on occasions of Urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri and scuttled at least three visits of Sikh and Hindu pilgrims to religious shrines in Pakistan since June 2017", reported Dawn newspaper.

The MEA added that on April 14, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan was forced to return while he was on his way to the Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

There have been reports of display of posters of "Sikh referendum: 2020 Khalistan" in gurdwaras in Pakistan, which are being visited by Indian pilgrims.

A group of around 1,800 pilgrims reached Pakistan on April 12 under the bilateral agreement on facilitating religious visits.

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India in a statement issued on Monday said that the Pakistani diplomat 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". The High Commissioner was thus compelled to return without meeting Indian citizens, it said. "The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah railway station on April 12".

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman had on Sunday rejected the allegations as "baseless".

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found in its report that people continue to be forcibly disappeared in the country, some after being critical of its powerful military or advocating better relations with neighbouring India.

In a statement from its foreign office on Sunday, Pakistan had denied these charges. "The ETPB acted with sincerity and in good faith, and the cancellation took place with mutual understanding", said the statement.

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India Protests Over Pakistan Denying Consular Access to Sikh Pilgrims