The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has taken a strong note of denial of visas to some Sikh devotees who wanted to visit the historic shrines in Pakistan on the birth anniversary of the first Sikh master Guru Nanak on November 24.
In a release issued here on Tuesday, SGPC additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi said the panel had sent a list of 975 pilgrims along with their passports to the Union home ministry and the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi. However, the names of 51 pilgrims have been deleted and their passports have been sent back, he added.
“This is unfortunate as every Sikh in India desires to pay obeisance at the holy shrines across the border. It has hurt the sentiments of devotes who will now not be able to undertake the pilgrimage,” Bedi added.
The SGPC additional secretary said while some names were deleted by the home ministry, the others were not granted visas by the high commission. Now, 924 pilgrims will undertake the pilgrimage.
“Despite our repeated requests to the home ministry and the Pakistan high commission, Sikh pilgrims continue to be denied permission to visit the shrines of their gurus across the border”, he added.
The pilgrims will leave on three special trains from Attari on November 20. The trains will take them directly to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, where they will participate in the ‘gurpurab’ celebrations.
Other than Nankana Sahib, the pilgrims will also pay obeisance at other Sikh shrines, including Panja Sahib and Dera Sahib in Lahore. It will be a 10-day pilgrimage.
SGPC member Gurmit Singh Bhooh is the leader of the pilgrims ‘jatha’ with Amarjit Singh Bhaliapur as his deputy.