Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims to raise Khalistan issue, says India

Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims to raise Khalistan issue, says India

Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims to raise Khalistan issue, says India

Shah was called in to register India's objection to Pakistan making inflammatory remarks and displaying posters with such messages at places where the pilgrims visited.

Pakistan's alleged support for separatist Khalistan movement during the ongoing Baisakhi celebrations at Gurdwara Punja Sahib near Rawalpindi has once again triggered diplomatic war between the two countries.

Pakistan's deputy high commissioner was summoned and informed about the strong condemnation by India on such efforts by Pakistan, said the statement.

In August past year, a parliamentary standing committee headed by former Union minister Shashi Tharoor in its report presented in the Lok Sabha had said, "The committee visited Dera Baba Nanak and came across the long-pending demand of people for establishment of an exclusive corridor from the Indian side to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through which pilgrims can pay homage without any visa or passport". A jatha (batch) of 1,800 Indian Sikh pilgrims is now visiting Pakistan. The pro-Khalistani Sikhs of Indian origin based in UK, US, Germany, Australia and several other countries have been calling for a referendum in 2020. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Islamabad was told that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to "secessionist movements" in India amounted to "interference" in its internal affairs.

The summoning of Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner came a day after India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over blocking of access of visiting Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats in that country and even "compelling" the Indian envoy to return while on way to a prominent gurudwara there. 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.

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"We deeply regret this Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations", Faisal said.

Earlier on Saturday, the MEA said that the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan was "suddenly asked to return while en route to the shrine, for unspecified "security" reasons".

Earlier on April 12, the officials were also stopped from meeting the Sikh pilgrims when they reached Wagah - the first station when a train crosses over to Pakistan.

Commenting on the MEA statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson on Sunday termed the allegations as "baseless".

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