An 1100-member Sikh jatha today left for Pakistan through Attari border to celebrate Baisakhi at various gurdwaras in the neighbouring country. They went chanting hymns from Gurbani and satnam-waheguru on the Samjhauta Express. Reports reaching here revealed that heavy security arrangements are in place for the jatha to visit various gurdwaras in Pakistan.
The visiting Sikhs will pay obeisance at gurdwaras Panja Sahib,Hassanabdal and Nankana Sahib. Most of the members represent Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) followed by those from Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and other Sikh religious groups. SGPC authorities said the Jatha members would have been more had the Delhi-based Pakistan High Commission not denied visas to 341 aspiring devotees out of a total of 920 applications submitted by SGPC. Amongst those denied visas were,surprisingly,jatha leader and deputy leader Rampal Singh and Hardial Singh respectively. Later,SPGC appointed Gurvinder Singh Shampura as jatha leader.
The Sikh leaders are likely to take up the issue of encroachment and selling of gurdwara land by influential persons in Pakistan. Blaming the Centre for delay in sending names of devotees to the Pak High Commission,SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said there was a lot of resentment against the Centre government among devotees over the denial of visas to pilgrims.
The Sikh devotees would return to India on April 20.
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