India protests as Pakistan stops Sikh pilgrims from meeting diplomats

Lifestyle       by Aleena Raheel | Published

Lifestyle by Aleena Raheel | Published

Also, they are violating the convention too and "inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy", India reminded Pakistan that it was violating the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the diplomatic Code of Conduct. A jatha (batch) of 1,800 Indian Sikh pilgrims is now visiting Pakistan. In March, Pakistan protested after India refused to grant visas to more than 500 Pakistani pilgrims to attend an annual religious congregation marking the death anniversary of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif, reported The Times of India. "However, the concerned officials of the Indian High Commission chose not to return, even though they were duly notified that the requisite clearance has been granted", he said.

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.

India on Monday accused Pakistan of trying to incite Indian Sikh pilgrims there by raising the issue of "Khalistan" through inflammatory statements and posters.

India and Pakistan are back to sniping at each other with the MEA on Monday summoning the deputy high commissioner of Pakistan to lodge a protest against attempts by Islamabad to raise the "Khalistan" issue while Sikh pilgrims are visiting the country.

A group of around 1,800 Indian pilgrims reached Pakistan to visit the shrines on the occasion of Baisakhi, which marks the 320th birth anniversary of the Khalsa. The High Commissioner was invited by the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board and was to greet Indian citizens celebrating Baisakhi.

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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.

According to the statement, the Indian consular team was also denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on Saturday for a scheduled meeting with the pilgrims there. Islamabad had however denied the allegations and had accused India of "distorting and misrepresenting facts".

Later on Saturday, however, the matter was raised with the Foreign Office in Islamabad and the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and a "protest" was lodged.

The visit of pilgrims takes place under a bilateral agreement on facilitating religious visits. "Despite that, we have seen that a wrongful version has been presented to mislead the public opinion", said the Pakistan Foreign Ministry's statement.

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