A family of four from Sadhanwala village in Faridkot district went missing from Gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore, Pakistan, on April 12. The family members, identified as Sunil Singh (36), his wife Sunita (34), son Umer Singh (10) and daughter Uma Kaur (9), had left for Pakistan on April 11 as part of a Sikh jatha to visit gurdwaras on the occasion of Baisakhi.
Harpal Singh Bhullar, a Ferozepur resident and president of the Bhai Mardana Yaadgar Kirtan Darbar Society, said they had sent 384 Sikh pilgrims to the neighbouring country for the Baisakhi visit. In all, 1,718 Sikhs pilgrims from India went to Pakistan through the Attari border. All of them returned on the expiry of their 10-day visa, except the Faridkot family.
Bhullar said he had procured visas for the missing family and other pilgrims. The family’s passports and other belongings are with Ajal Abbas, caretaker of Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, he added.
“We are in touch with the Indian as well as Pakistan authorities, including Sham Singh, president of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and are making efforts to trace the family,” Bhullar told HT.
When contacted, Amar Singh Chahal, deputy inspector general (DIG), Ferozepur, said police were probing the matter.
Meanwhile, Sadhanwala sarpanch Harjeet Singh said Sunil had arrived in the village about eight years ago. Sadhanwala is located about 12 km from Ferozepur and 20 km from Faridkot town.
“Sunil worked as a labourer for local farmers. He came into contact with Nanak Singh, who belongs to the Bavria community, which is engaged in the work of cutting trees, and began to live with the latter’s family,” said Harjeet.
Charanjit Singh Sharma, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Faridkot, said, “We can only confirm that Sunil, his wife and two children have not returned. A police team led by the Faridkot deputy superintendent of police (DSP) has been sent to the village for a verification.”
“Sunil and his family were living in a village dharamshala in Basti Gangpura,” said DSP Vishaljeet Singh, who visited the village.
Sunil’s children were studying in a government school in the nearby village of Chughe, while his wife worked as a labourer.
“About 40 years ago, a man named Gian Singh, who also belonged to the Bavria community, had eloped with a village girl. He was believed to be living in Rajasthan. Sunil claimed that he was Gian’s son,” sources said.
Sadhawala is located close to the cantonment area. The army’s Chughewala firing range is just 1.5 km away, while the ammunition depot is also nearby. The international border is 25 km from the village.
Though the missing family had been staying in the dharamshala for the past about three years and did not own a house in the village, Sunil managed to procure all necessary documents, including those which enabled him to get passports for himself and his family.
Home ministry informed
Amritsar: The Union home ministry has been informed about the missing Faridkot family. “After obtaining information about the family, we have apprised the home ministry of the matter through the Punjab home department,” Amritsar rural senior superintendent of police (SSP) Jasdeep Singh said here on Wednesday.
As Attari falls under the jurisdiction of the Amritsar rural police district, the SSP was informed about the matter by customs and immigration officials.
The Indian immigration officials have notified their Pakistani counterparts about the family.
When contacted, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi said, “As the family was not part of our jatha, we are not aware of their whereabouts.”
Sunil Singh (36), his wife Sunita (34), son Umer Singh (10) and daughter Uma Kaur (9) had left for Pakistan on April 11
The couple worked as labourers at Sadhanwala village in Faridkot district
They were part of the 384-member jatha sent to Pakistan by Ferozepur-based Bhai Mardana Yaadgar Kirtan Darbar Society