Amid security concern following back-to-back blasts in its Punjab province, the Pakistan government on Sunday sent back a Hindu contingent that was on pilgrimage to the neighbouring nation.
Around 237 pilgrims had gone to Pakistan on February 22 to visit various Hindu shrines, including the historical Katasraj temple in Chakwal district, and were scheduled to return on February 28.
The ‘jatha’, which reached the International Border at Attari by road around 3pm, were all praises for the hospitality and security provided by the Pakistani authorities. They, however, expressed disappointment over not being able to visit more temples and go around shopping at Lahore.
Ishwar Singh, one of the pilgrims, said: “We paid obeisance at the Katasraj temple and celebrated Shivratri there. But immediately after the celebrations on Friday night, we were asked to move to Lahore. We spent Saturday moving around the city amid tight security and spent the last night of our pilgrimage at a gurdwara there. We were asked to leave for India on Sunday morning, which they said was for our well-being and safety.”
The sudden change in programme led to cancellation of a high-profile dinner the Pakistan government officials had planned for the pilgrims on Monday, said Ashok Arora from Yamunanagar in Haryana. “We were brought to the Attari border through a different route for our safety,” he said.
Ramesh Sharma, president of the Durgiana temple management committee, said all 50 local devotees who were part of the ‘jatha’ had returned safely.