Not cowed down by the suicide bomb attack at the Wagah border, a 1,500-member Sikh jatha left for Pakistan to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak.
After the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) gave the green signal to the jatha, many pilgrims on Tuesday boarded three special trains from Amritsar and Attari railway stations for Pakistan. The jatha was led by SGPC member Harjap Singh.
The blast at Wagah that had killed over 60 people on Sunday evening seems to have had no effect on the pilgrims as they seemed confident about the journey. Excited at the pilgrimage, Palwinder Kaur, who hails from Patiala, said, “I am happy and feel myself lucky to have got the visa. The recent blast is not playing on our minds and we have faith in the guru.”
Chabhal resident Paramjit Kaur said, “There is absolutely no fear of any sort. I am looking forward to the pilgrimage with a lot of faith and am pretty confident that everything would turn out fine.” The entire group seemed happy and excited about paying obeisance at Nankana Sahib and other shrines.
Though a couple of pilgrims did admit that the terror attack had left them apprehensive, but their faith had triumphed, they said. The jatha is scheduled to return on November 13.
Under the aegis of the SGPC, 1,028 people had applied for visa. The Pakistan government granted visa to 759 of them and rejected the visa of 269 people.
SGPC spokesperson Daljit Singh Bedi said the SGPC was confident that the Pakistan government would look after the security of the pilgrims. “Pakistan has given visas to the pilgrims, so it is their responsibility to provide them security.”
There were many pilgrims from all over the region who reached Amritsar on Tuesday morning only to find that the Pakistan government had rejected their visas. Upset over this, they said the SGPC should have informed them in advance and they would have stayed home.
Ajit Singh, one such pilgrim, said, “We were a group of 12 of which five did not get the visa. We all came here with bags packed but now have been informed about the rejection of visa. We are disappointed. The SGPC should have informed us in advance.”
However, the SGPC claimed that it was not their fault as they had received the passports from the Pakistani embassy very late.
SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh termed it unfortunate saying the Pakistan government should keep in mind that maximum pilgrims wanted to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of the first Sikh guru, so they should not reject so many visas.