India on Saturday summoned Deputy Chief of Mission of Pakistan Syed Haider Shah in New Delhi. The Ministry of External Affairs to lodge a strong protest at the “denial” of access to Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, his wife and consular officials of the Indian High Commission to the visiting Indian pilgrims” at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, in Pakistan’s Hasan Abdal on Friday, despite having requisite travel permissions.
Meeting with the Pakistani diplomat, the Joint Secretary of PAI (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) desk raised many concerns regarding anti-India elements and their role in the Gurudwara.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “This is the second consecutive time, Pakistan has denied access to Indian High Commissioner to meet the visiting pilgrims who are Indian nationals.”
Sources have told India Today that the team of Indian officials left for Hasan Abdal after getting the required permission. It was a two-hour journey and upon arrival, they were informed that due to “security reasons” the Indian officials cannot enter the premises of the holy place.
Sources say, while Pakistan’s Foreign Office cleared the travel, the Ministry of Interior raised security concerns. A matter that could’ve been conveyed before High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria left Islamabad.
Pakistan claims that the Indian diplomats were barred from entering the venue because the Sikh pilgrims refused to meet the officials over the controversial film on Guru Nanak.
Pakistan Foreign Office’s Spokesperson, Mohammad Faisal, in a tweet wrote, “Sikh pilgrims were protesting against maltreatment in India & release of controversial movies. Indian HC was informed about the heightened pilgrim sentiments & he agreed to cancel his visit due to this concern.”
Although the MEA refuted the claims saying that India organisers of the Yatra also condemned the turn of events.
“Indian organizers, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), when contacted, have expressed grave concern and dismay at the incident despite the visiting pilgrims from India having asked Pakistan organisers to facilitate a meeting with Indian High Commissioner and High Commission officials”, said the MEA statement.
The biggest concern for India has been increasing support of Pakistan to Khalistani elements that plan to foment trouble in India. Deepak Mittal, JS (PAI) in MEA, raised it with the Pakistani diplomat in India. “Concerns have also been conveyed at repeated attempts by entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India and incite the Indian pilgrims, and Pakistan authorities asked to ensure that no such activity is carried out from Pakistan soil”, said MEA.
Sources say, Khalistani elements in the Gurudwara try indoctrinating or influencing Indian pilgrims who have a free hand in Pakistan and are one of the main reasons why Pakistan always stops any contact of Indian officials with the pilgrims visiting Pakistan.