Badal calls for free access to Sikh shrines in Pakistan | india | Hindustan Times
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Badal calls for free access to Sikh shrines in Pakistan

The Akali supremo regretted that despite personally inviting the President and the Prime Minister to grace the function "they could not find time to attend.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 20:52 IST

Shiromani Akali Dal on Friday sought free access by Indian pilgrims to Sikh shrines in Pakistan besides easing of visa restrictions for them.

SAD President and former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal said that during his visit to Pakistan earlier this week, he had taken up the issue of allowing more pilgrims to travel freely to Pakistan.

"I told the authorities in Lahore that if you can allow scores of cricket fans to travel to watch a cricket match, liberal policy should be adopted in case of the pilgrims also," he said at a gathering in Tarn Taran to mark the 400th martyrdom anniversary of fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.

Chiding a few leaders present at the meet, including SAD (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann, for deviating from their speech and talking politics, Badal said it would have been better if they had refrained from making any political speech at "this purely religious occasion."

The Akali supremo regretted that despite personally inviting the President and the Prime Minister to grace the function "they could not find time to attend. I did not want to say this here, but both the President and the Prime Minister should have come."

The function was attended by former Prime Ministers IK Gujral and Deve Gowda, BJP President Rajnath Singh, BJP leaders Shahnawaz Hussain and Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Meanwhile, the ruling Congress had set up a separate pandal in Tarn Taran to mark the martyrdom of the Guru.

Religious fervour was at its zenith as people from the region and across the country and abroad reached the town, which was on Friday accorded the district status, to pay tributes to the Guru.