23 Sikh pilgrims' passports missing from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi; Islamabad denies involvement, blames Indian travel agent

Amid tumultuous relations between India and Pakistan, 23 Indian passports have been reported missing from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, reports have said.

The passports belonged to Sikh pilgrims who were looking to visit gurudwaras in Pakistan, including the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, which holds special significance in the Sikh religion.

 23 Sikh pilgrims passports missing from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi; Islamabad denies involvement, blames Indian travel agent

Representational image. AFP

As per a report from The Times of India, the matter led to a security scare and was brought to the notice of the Ministry of External Affairs after several of these passport holders filed an FIR with the police. The ministry subsequently revoked all missing passports.

In addition, the ministry has also taken up the issue with the Pakistan High Commission, the report said.

Pakistan has denied any involvement in the incident, and instead blamed a Delhi-based travel agent for the missing passports. The agent claimed that he submitted the documents to the Pakistan High Commission. However, on returning to the high commission, he was told that they did not have the documents.

Pakistan had issued visas to over 3,800 Sikh pilgrims in order to participate in Guru Nanak Dev's birth anniversary celebrations, which were held in the country from 21 to 30 November. These visas were given in addition to those issued to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from other countries, CNN News18 reported.

India's relations with neighbouring Pakistan have had a turbulent trajectory this year, with New Delhi calling off a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Relations improved after both nations individually decided to cede to a long-standing demand by the Sikh community to open the Kartarpur corridor.

India's Union Cabinet on 22 November had approved the construction and development of the corridor from the Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the India-Pakistan border.

Qureshi while briefing the Pakistan National Assembly on 24 November had said that Pakistan had also decided to open the corridor for the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019. "The Pakistani proposal to initiate the corridor has also been concurred by India,” he had said.

Updated Date: Dec 15, 2018 12:59:22 IST