Chandigarh employees miffed, casual leave not allowed for Kartarpur visit

Eager to visit Kartarpur after the corridor to the last resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev was thrown open between India and Pakistan last month, Chandigarh administration employees, much to their chagrin, have learnt that they cannot apply for casual leave for a visit. Instead, they have to take ex-India leave, which involves a much cumbersome process, from their parent department.

The trans-border corridor allows Indian pilgrims with passports visa-free access to the gurdwara in Pakistan’s Narowal district.

Most of the employees are from Punjab and came to know about the administrative norms after some of them, including police personnel, applied for casual leave but were told to take ex-India leave instead. “I had applied for casual leave to visit the historic holy place and also attached with my application the Punjab government order of exemption of ex-India leave. But I was denied permission and asked to apply for ex-India leave and get it approved,” said an employee working with the UT administration wishing to remain anonymous.

“Applying for ex-India leave involves a long and cumbersome process. I have now postponed the visit even though I want to take my wife there because she is suffering from cancer and it’s her wish to see the place,” he said.

Though the Punjab government has relaxed rules for its employees,the Chandigarh administration has not done so. “It is mandatory for Chandigarh employees to take ex-India leave to visit Kartarpur Sahib,” said KK Yadav, currently in charge of the personnel department.

In ex-India leave case, a person has too seek clearance from the ministry of home affairs and the entire process can last more than 10 days. The process of clearing the leave begins after filling a form and explaining the reason behind the leave.

Such cases are otherwise dealt with on priority and cleared without any delay, he said.

According to rules, Indian pilgrims can use the corridor to visit the shrine, just 4 km away from the border in Pakistan. They need to fill the online registration form at least 12 days before the date of the visit. A passport is required for identity proof but he or she does not require any visa to visit the place. An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) from the Union government is also required.

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