Home Breaking News Nearly 17,000 Indian pilgrims visited Pakistan in last 5 years: Centre

Nearly 17,000 Indian pilgrims visited Pakistan in last 5 years: Centre

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Nearly 17,000 Indian pilgrims visited Pakistan in last 5 years: Centre

The highest number of Indian pilgrims who travelled to the neighbouring country was in 2021 (5,425), followed by 4,273 in 2019

NEW DELHI: Over the past five years, 16,831 Indian pilgrims have visited Pakistan, while 2,119 Pakistani pilgrims visited India, minister of state for external affairs V. Muraleedharan informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Responding to Bharatiya Janata Party MP Mahesh Poddar’s query, Muraleedharan cited government data and said, “Visits of pilgrims between India and Pakistan are covered under the ‘Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974’. Pilgrimages to 15 shrines in Pakistan and 6 shrines in India are facilitated by the government under the protocol.”

As per the data presented in the Upper House, the highest number of Indian pilgrims who travelled to the neighbouring country was in 2021 (5,425), followed by 4,273 in 2019. The highest number of Pakistani pilgrims who came to India was recorded in 2017 (984), as of March 25 this year. However, no pilgrims have travelled to either country so far in 2022.

Muraleedharan added that “some” Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities, mainly Hindus and Sikhs, visited India on ‘Group Pilgrim Visa’, but they have not returned.

The minister of state also mentioned that the Indian government regularly liaises with Pakistan to facilitate pilgrimages, including medical facilities, transportation, security and accommodation among other things.

Apart from this, he informed the Parliament about the agreement signed with Pakistan in 2019 to facilitate the travel of Indians to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan. Under this, free visa travel is provided to Indian pilgrims as well as Overseas Citizens of India cardholders from India to the gurdwara on a daily basis, all year round.

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