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Friday, February 26, 2021

Home ministry denies permission for Sikh pilgrims to visit Pakistan

A letter from the MHA addressed to SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur read: “This is with respect to a proposal by SGPC to send a special jatha to Pakistan from February 18 to 25, 2021 to attend the 100th anniversary of 'Saka Nankana Sahib'"

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
February 18, 2021 3:02:07 am
Union Home Ministry, Pakistan gurdwara, Sikh pilgrims, Nankana Sahib, Sikh pilgrims permission to Pakistan, Akal Takht, indian express newsA Sikh Jatha had visited Nankana Sahib three months back. (Representational)

The Union Home Ministry Wednesday denied permission to 600 Sikh pilgrims intending to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan citing the security and Covid-19 situation in the neighbouring country. The jatha had Friday applied to go to Pakistan to observe the 100th anniversary of Saka Nanakana Sahib.

The move was criticised by the SGPC and the Akal Takht.

A Sikh Jatha had visited Nankana Sahib three months back.

A letter from the MHA addressed to SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur read: “This is with respect to a proposal by SGPC to send a special jatha to Pakistan from February 18 to 25, 2021 to attend the 100th anniversary of ‘Saka Nankana Sahib’. Recent inputs indicate threat to the safety and security of Indian citizens visiting Pakistan. As the jatha, which may have nearly 600 members, is scheduled to visit five gurdwaras across Pakistan over a period of week, we apprehend considerable threat to the safety of a large number of our citizens during this visit.”

It added: “You may also be aware that traffic on India-Pakistan international border remains suspended since March, 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic. While, the pandemic continues to persist, it is pertinent to note that Pakistan has so far recorded over half a million cases with over 10,000 plus deaths, due to Covid. Considering the capacity of health infrastructure in Pakistan, it is not advisable for a large group of our citizens to visit Pakistan for a week during pandemic.”

The letter concluded: “In view of the factors mentioned above, MHA has not accorded permission to the jatha for crossing over to Pakistan….”

Objecting to denial of permission less than 24 hours before the jatha was scheduled to cross over, Bibi Jagir Kaur said: “We are shocked and surprised over denial of permission…”

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