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Pakistan Changes Stand, To Charge Fee From Pilgrims On Kartarpur Inaugural
Kartarpur corridor: The $20 fee is a sudden change from the waiver that Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on November 1, when he said no fee would be charged
The Kartarpur corridor will be inaugurated on Saturday; Pakistan will charge $20 from Sikh pilgrims
New Delhi: In sudden change of plans Pakistan annouced it will charge an entry fee of $20 from pilgrims who are coming to Kartarpur on the opening day of the corridor on Saturday. Earlier, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced waiver on November 1, when he said no fee would be charged on the inauguration day and on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to inaugurate the corridor in Gurdaspur on November 9, while Mr Khan will declare it open from the other end.
India had objected to the $20 service charge that Pakistan had said it would impose on Sikh pilgrims. Disagreement over the issue even led to a delay in launching online registration for pilgrims intending to visit the shrine.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, just 4 km from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
It is the place where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, is believed to have spent the last 18 years of his life.
The first group of Sikh pilgrims includes former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, actor-politician Sunny Deol, and Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu was also given political clearance to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib by the foreign ministry on Thursday.
India had sent a list of the 550-member jatha or delegation attending Saturday's event in Kartarpur, and presumes it stands confirmed by Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The pilgrims will be accommodated in 544 European-style tents, 100 Swiss cottages and 20 darbar-style tents on a 30-acre plot.
Dera Baba Nanak is expected to receive some 30,000 pilgrims daily for four days between Friday and Monday.
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