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Those not part of Indian 'jatha' or whom Pak invites will have to take political clearance: MEA

twitter-logoPTI | October 31, 2019 | Updated 21:51 IST

New Delhi, Oct 31 (PTI) Those not part of India's official delegation to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor will have to take political clearance as per the normal procedure, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday amidst reports of Pakistan inviting cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for an inaugural event of the corridor. India's jatha, whose list the country has shared with Pakistan, includes personalities from different sides of the political spectrum, including Union ministers those from the Punjab government, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing. Asked if Sidhu was part of the list that has been shared, he did not give a direct answer saying those who are not on the list know that they have to take political clearance. "There will be no surprises," he said referring to the list of 575 people who will be part of the inaugural jatha to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor. "Those whom Pakistan wants to invite and who want to go in future, they have to take the normal political clearance as is required for a visit to a foreign country. The due process that is applicable needs to be followed," he said. As per the normal procedure, a political visit needs clearance from the government. Pakistan has reportedly invited Sidhu to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor, which will be opened for pilgrims on November 9. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh and Union minister Hardeep Puri are among the 575 people who will be part of the inaugural jatha to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor, central government sources had said. Kumar also said the Indian side has shared a list of 480 people for a visit to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, seeking visas for them. "Pakistan, which tries to project that it is trying to facilitate Sikh pilgrimage, we have not heard from them, in fact we hear that the visas will not be granted. We feel that it is disrespect to the sentiments of Sikh pilgrims, especially on this pious occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak," Kumar said. Pakistan is also yet to respond to the proposal made by India to enhance the number of pilgrims visiting on the occasion of 'Gurpurb' on November 12, under the 1974 Protocol, to 10,000 instead of the regular 3,000, he said. The MEA spokesperson said the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor will be held separately by India and Pakistan and details will be announced later. Kumar said media wanting to cover the event will have to follow the normal procedure of going through the Pakistan High Commission. India and Pakistan last week signed the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims to undertake visa-free visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of the Sikh religion's founder Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, notwithstanding a chill in the bilateral ties over Kashmir. The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent last 18 years of his life. PTI ASK ASK KJ KJ

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