Pakistan denies visa to 150 Sikh pilgrims
Pakistan high commission has rejected the visa of 150 Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan to commemorate the martyrdom day of 5th Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.
The visa was rejected after differences over the date of observing the martyrdom day, with SGPC officials wanting the visa for Sikh pilgrims for today (May 22), while Pakistan said it would grant visa for June 16 when Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee observes the anniversary.
"We wanted the visa for Sikh pilgrims to visit Pakistan on May 22 when SGPC is observing the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, while Pakistan government said they are observing the day on June 16 and could grant visa only for that day.
"We would celebrate the day as per our Sikh traditions and not as per Pakistan. This is interference in the internal affairs of Sikhs," SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told PTI.
When contacted, Pakistan High Commission sources said the mission has not denied the visas but the dates given to them by the PSGP is between June 8 to 17 and they can only issue visa for that period.
SGPC President secretary Roop Singh said they had applied for visa to 150 Sikh pilgrims seeking to visit gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore, associated with the fifth Sikh Guru.
"But Pakistan authorities denied visas to the Sikh pilgrims," he said, adding that they were to visit other gurdwaras in Pakistan like Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib also.
The SGPC chief said that last year also no Sikh pilgrim could visit Pakistan to pay homage at Gurdwaras there due to differences over dates with Pakistan authorities.
In Punjab, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev is observed today and has been declared as a holiday.