News report | | 26-03-2018 | ±3 minutes reading time

India has refused 500 visas for pilgrims. With this act, India is violating a treaty from 1974 between India and Pakistan. It states that the borders are always open for religious travellers. Now, 503 Pakistani Zaireen were refused, Pakistan claims.

Pilgrimage

The Foreign Office in Pakistan has said that they are ‘deeply disappointed’ about the rejection of the visa for 503 Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims). These religious people wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Ajmer, in Rajasthan. The Urs festival is being held there; an event which commemorates the death of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinudding Chishti.

According to Pakistan, the pilgrims should be able to enter the country, as this was established in a treaty from 1974. That treaty says that visits to religious sanctuaries are permitted, in part because it is a yearly event. The country furthermore calls it ‘ironic’, because Hazrat Khwaja Moinudding Chishti spent centuries to bring the two communities closer together.

Undermining relations

In a statement, Pakistan has stated that India is threatening religious freedom with these kinds of measures. Furthermore, India would be undermining relations between both countries, and all efforts to improve contact would be undone. According to Pakistan, this isn’t the first time India has refused visas to pilgrims from Pakistan. They already could not take part in the event that commemorates Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia, from January 1 to January 8.

Special train

Pakistan’s statement reveals that a similar problem occured in 2018. The country supposedly sent a ‘special train’, with which Sikh pilgrims were transported to a religious event. This concerned the commemorations of Guru Arjan Dev and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. India is said to have thwarted this.

Diplomatic impasse

The developments are likely the result of a diplomatic impasse between Pakistan and India. In the past few weeks, India and Pakistan have constantly accused each other of intimidating their diplomats. Many people who have tried to apply for a visa in Pakistan with a .gov.in address were supposedly unable to do this. These addresses have apparently been blocked by Pakistan as far back as May 2017. The websites are required to properly prepare for a trip to India. This especially affects students and business people, official sources said to The Indian Express.

Indian visa

If you want to travel to India, you need an Indian visa. The visa is mandatory for all British travellers that want to travel to India. Not just business travellers need to apply for a visa, regular tourists are required to do so as well. Even children and babies need to be registered. They must be included in the passport of their parents, or possess passports of their own. Submitting an Indian visa application can be done entirely online. India uses a so-called e-visa. This visa is sufficient for travellers that are staying for less than 90 days, travellers with medical travel purposes that are staying for less than 60 days, and business travellers that plan to stay for less than 180 days.

The traveller must possess a passport that is valid for at least six more months from the moment he or she arrives in India. Furthermore, you must possess a clear scan or photo of the passport, and a recent passport photo. Arranging an Indian visa costs €109,95 per person. It takes about 15 minutes to apply for a visa through the online application form.