NEW DELHI: India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan on Thursday over rampant encroachment of land belonging to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal across the border, including "surreptitious takeover" of some parts by the country's government in the name of developing a corridor.
During talks on opening the Kartarpur corridor , New Delhi demanded that the encroached land be restored to the gurdwara at the earliest, keeping in mind strong sentiments on the issue among Indian devotees.
Officials here said India was shocked to learn Pakistan had allowed such encroachment on land belonging to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. "The land was donated to the gurdwara by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji and other eminent Sikh devotees over a period of time. Land owned by the gurdwara has also been acquired by the government of Pakistan. India has protested against the impropriety of arbitrarily depriving the gurdwara of its legal possessions, in utter disregard to sentiments of devotees of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in India. A strong demand has been made by the Indian side for early restoration of the land to the gurdwara," said a senior government official who was part of the meeting in Attari between joint-secretary level home ministry officials, assisted by foreign ministry representatives, and Pakistani foreign ministry officials .
Pakistan, on its part, had little explanation to offer at Thursday's talks for the encroachment of the Kartarpur Sahib land that was originally spread over 100 acres.
Officials privy to the talks said Pakistan fell way short of its leadership's "tall claims and promises" that they were making a great concession for Indian devotees by opening up the corridor. Islamabad adopted a restrictive approach on every proposal for facilitating the pilgrims.
Significantly, Pakistan insisted on a mere two-year validity for a memorandum of understanding on the corridor even though India government has initiated the process of constructing a permanent structure comprising a passenger terminal to facilitate 5,000 pilgrims a day. Incidentally, all that Pakistan officials committed to was allowing 500 pilgrims a day, which at most could be stretched to 700.