Pakistan has denied pilgrim visas to a group of Sikh devotees from India, who wanted to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak at the Nankana Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan.
"We had applied for visa to Pakistan and when we came here, we got to know that our visas had been cancelled. We wanted to go for pilgrimage to the Nankana Sahib gurdwara and now we are facing difficulty and are disappointed," said Vijendar Kaur, a woman pilgrim.
Every year, thousands of Sikhs pay obeisance at the shrine, where the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak, was born.
The SGPC said in Amritsar that more than half the pilgrims were denied visas without assigning any reason.
"Every year, on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, a large group of Sikh devotees go for pilgrimage in the Nankana Sahib gurdwara and this year also, through the SGPC, we had applied from 1,860 visas, of which 971 were cancelled. I feel it is wrong and disappointing for the devotees," said Ram Singh, a member of the SGPC.
Singh said this had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community; he demanded flexibility in visa policies.
"We demand that the policy for visas should be flexible and the cancellation of visas at the 11th hour is not justified for a person, who had been waiting to go on the pilgrimage. This is an important pilgrimage for Sikhs and I want that the authorities should help us in the process of getting visas and steps should be taken to change the visa policies, so that the pilgrims are able to get the visas easily," said Singh.