India summons Pak's deputy HC over access to pilgrims

India summons Pak's deputy HC over access to pilgrims

Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah, Image courtesy Twitter/ANI

India on Saturday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over stopping its envoy in Islamabad Ajay Bisaria from visiting Gurdwara Panja Sahib to meet Indian pilgrims.

Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner to India Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the external affairs ministry and a strong protest was lodged for stopping Bisaria from visiting the gurdwara located near Islamabad.

It was strongly conveyed to the Pakistan envoy 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 visit to religious shrines.

Accompanied by his wife and officials from the Indian High Commission, Bisaria had taken the requisite permission required to visit the gurdwara in Hasan Abdal, about 40 km northwest of Islamabad.

The Indian High Commission had sought travel permission to meet Indian pilgrims who are in Pakistan to observe the 179th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29.

"A strong protest was also registered by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad at the incident," a Ministry of External Affairs statement said here.

This is the second consecutive time, Pakistan has denied access to Indian High Commissioner to meet the visiting pilgrims who are Indian nationals.

Indian organisers, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), when contacted, also expressed grave concern and dismay at the incident.

The request was struck down, despite several visiting Indian pilgrims urging Pakistani organisers to facilitate a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner and High Commission officials.

Earlier this year, India and Pakistan were locked in a row over the treatment of diplomats and diplomatic premises.

The standoff lasted for three weeks and was resolved at the end of March.

India had asked Pakistan to ensure safety and security of its officials working at the Indian mission in Islamabad, saying they continue to face "harassment" and "intimidation".