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Pakistan denies permission to Sikh jatha to visit Lahore, cites Covid-19

Earlier Pakistan had also denied permission to a jatha that was scheduled to visit the country for the martyrdom day of fifth Guru of Sikhs Guru Arjun Dev Ji on June 14.

By: Express News Service | Amritsar |
June 16, 2021 7:35:50 pm
A jatha (batch) of Sikh pilgrims make their way over to Gurdwara Sri Dehra Sahib, Lahore, every year to observe the death anniversary of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29. (Express file photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

Pakistan has for the second year in a row denied permission to the Sikh jatha for visiting Gurudwara Sri Dehra Sahib in Lahore.

A jatha (batch) of Sikh pilgrims make their way over to Gurdwara Sri Dehra Sahib, Lahore, every year to observe the death anniversary of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29. The jatha, however, were denied permission for their visit last year by the Pakistan government owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, too, the Pakistani government cited the same reason while denying the Sikh pilgrims permission to travel.

Kulwinder Singh, a Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee spokesman, said, “The yatra department of SGPC had a telephonic talk with Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s (PSGPC’s) president Satwant Singh, who informed us that due to the Covid-19 situation, the jatha of Indian Sikh pilgrims going to Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh has not been given permission to travel by the Pakistan government this year either.”

Singh added that the jatha was scheduled to leave for Pakistan on June 21 and return to India on June 30, after observing the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29.

He said that the pilgrims who had submitted their passports to the SGPC office for going to Pakistan to observe Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary can collect back their documents from the yatra department of SGPC.

Earlier Pakistan had also denied permission to a jatha that was scheduled to visit the country for the martyrdom day of fifth Guru of Sikhs Guru Arjun Dev Ji on June 14.

The last Sikh jatha had visited Pakistan in April this year, on the occasion of Baisakhi.

SGPC sacks four employees

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur on Wednesday said she had sacked four employees and transferred the entire staff posted at Gurdwara Gangsar Sahib, Jaito, after they were found guilty of violating the service rules and defaming the management of the gurdwara.

The sacked employees include gurdwara manager Kulwinder Singh, clerk Sukhmandar Singh, sewadars (servicemen) Gurbaj Singh, and Lakhbir Singh, all of who were sacked for using the gurdwara premises for illicit conduct.

Taking cognisance of complaints received from devotees, Kaur said that the action was taken on the basis of the report submitted by SGPC junior vice-president Baba Buta Singh, executive committee member Navtej Singh Kauni and members of SGPC’s flying squad.

SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur said that any kind of negligence in the management of gurdwaras and misconduct of the employees cannot be tolerated.

“Those employees of Gurdwara Gangsar Sahib, Jaito, who have defamed the management of the gurdwara by violating the religious code of conduct. They have been sacked with immediate effect,” said Bibi Jagir Kaur.

SGPC president said that a case has also been lodged against the accused employees at Jaito police station in Faridkot district and most of the remaining staff members have been transferred from the gurdwara.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said, “The responsibility of the people working in the management of gurdwara is even greater than that of the general public, and accordingly, the SGPC will not tolerate any negligence and unethical activities inside the gurdwara premises.”

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