Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims to raise Khalistan issue, says India

Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims to raise Khalistan issue, says India

The diplomats of the two countries had made claims and counter-claims about harassment in each other's country.

Pakistan has rejected as "baseless" the allegations that it blocked access of visiting Indian Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats and even "compelled" the Indian High Commissioner to return while on way to Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Punjab province.

Deputy high commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi Syed Haider Shah was summoned Monday to the Ministry of External Affairs and a strong protest was lodged at attempts by Islamabad to incite Sikh pilgrims to raise the issue of Khalistan on their return to India.

"A strong protest was lodged at attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the issue of "Khalistan" by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters" at various places of pilgrimage in Pakistan, the ministry said. "However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims".

Shalimar Bagh Lahore
Shalimar Bagh Lahore

The Indian Foreign Ministry urged Pakistan to put an immediate end to those actions that seek to undermine sovereignty, territorial integrity and to cause disruption in India.

"It was conveyed that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India amount to interference in the internal affairs of India". ".these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct [for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan] of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries", it said.

As per the reports, MEA said, "A standard practice has been that the Indian High Commission's consular/protocol team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies".

A group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims is now in Islamabad to visit holy sites and shrines. Pakistan-based Dawn News quoted country's Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal as saying that India had on two occasions in 2018 denied visas to Pakistani pilgrims.

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