A day after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) cancelled the visit of its 1,400-strong Sikh jatha to Pakistan due to denial of visas to a majority of the applicants, 1,145 pilgrims still left for Lahore in two special trains from Attari.
The first train left at noon while the other left three hours later. These pilgrims included the 161 sponsored by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). They have, however, left as individuals, said a DSGMC official.
The Delhi body, which is also governed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), too, had decided on Tuesday to cancel its jatha’s visit to show solidarity with the SGPC.
The SGPC took the step after the Pakistan High Commission granted visas to only 300 of its 1,400 applicants. The jatha was to leave on Wednesday on a 10-day pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, those who could not get visas to Pakistan for the pilgrimage coinciding with Baisakhi blamed the SGPC rather than the Pakistan High Commission.
Beero, a 75-year-old from Bathinda was shocked to learn that she had been denied a visa. After having spent the night at a SGPC serai, she collected her passport and the fee she deposited for the visa, but not before admonishing the officials. “I would have sent my son to collect the passport if you had at least informed me,” she told an SGPC official. “It seems my wish to go to Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib will remain unfulfilled,” she added.
Jagroop Singh from Dhaula village of Barnala was on the verge of crying. “If the SGPC president’s claim that many applications are rejected, is true, he should have personally taken up the matter with the high commissioner.