Pakistan on Sunday rejected the allegations that Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was denied access to a famous Sikh Gurdwara near Islamabad. In its defence, it said that the diplomat had agreed to cancel his visit following the protests by Sikh pilgrims against the release of controversial Indian movies.
The response from Islamabad came a day after India summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest over the denial of access to its envoy in Islamabad and consular officials to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib and meet visiting Indian pilgrims.
However, reacting to the incident, Indian envoy Bisaria said he was not allowed to meet the Indian pilgrims and added that the matter has been taken up with Pakistan. “I was not allowed to go in to meet with the Indian pilgrims (visiting the Gurdwara Panja Sahib near Islamabad) which is a normal diplomatic duty of an envoy. It has been taken up at all levels. We hope such things are not repeated,” Bisaria told news agency ANI.
New Delhi also conveyed to the Pakistan side that preventing the Indian High Commission officials from discharging their consular responsibilities was in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, and the 1974 bilateral Protocol on the visit to religious shrines. This was the second consecutive time Pakistan has denied access to the Indian High Commissioner to meet the Indian pilgrims.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted that Sikh pilgrims “were protesting against maltreatment in India & release of controversial movies.” He said the Indian high commissioner agreed to cancel his visit after being informed about the heightened pilgrim sentiments.
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 (2/2)— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) June 23, 2018
He also said that more than 300 Indian Sikhs are visiting Pakistan for the death anniversary of Raja Ranjit Singh and a special train was arranged from Attari to Wagah for the Sikh yatris “who are always welcome to Pakistan for their religious and cultural ceremonies”.
Earlier, media reports had said that Bisaria and his wife were denied entry by Sikhs who were protesting over controversial movie Nanak Shah Fakir. The Supreme Court in April had cleared the decks for an all-India release of the movie on April 13.
Earlier on Saturday, India summoned the deputy high commissioner of Pakistan Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest with him over the denial of access to the Indian diplomat.