A strong protest lodged with Pakistan after a visiting group of Sikh pilgrims was denied consular access.
New Delhi : India on Sunday 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 Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a group of around 1800 Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan since April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.
In a statement, the MEA also said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib. The MEA called it an “inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy” by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
“India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over blocking of access of visiting pilgrims to Indian diplomats and consular teams,” it said in a statement. The fresh incidents came, two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other’s diplomats.
The MEA said the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, who was to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at the invitation of the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), was suddenly asked to return while en route the shrine on Saturday, for unspecified ‘security’ reasons.