Pakistan denies Indian delegation permission to hold ‘nagar kirtan’ at Nankana Sahib
Pakistan has denied permission for an Indian delegation comprising representatives of the Punjab government and various Sikh bodies to hold ‘nagar kirtan’ at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, people familiar with developments said on Tuesday.
The delegation, led by the Punjab government and including representatives of the SGPC and DSGMC, had planned to organise ‘Akhand Path’ and hold ‘nagar kirtan’ at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab province as part of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Pakistan did not grant visas for a 31-member delegation of the Punjab government and another 450 Indian pilgrims even though their applications were recommended by the Indian government to the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi, the people cited above said.
Authorities in Pakistan instead decided to give leadership of the group of pilgrims to Paramjit Singh Sarna and this has not been viewed well by the people of India’s Punjab state, the people added.
“It is seen as disrespect to the sentiments of the members of the Sikh community who wanted to visit Nankana Sahib on the auspicious occasion to start commemorations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak from the first week of November,” said a person who declined to be identified.
The people said this is perhaps the first time that Pakistan, whose leadership has often spoken of facilitating Sikh pilgrims to visit Nankana Sahib, has denied such a visit.
Pakistan is also yet to respond to a proposal made by the Indian government to enhance the number of pilgrims visiting the country on the occasion of Gurpurab in November, under the 1974 protocol, to 10,000 instead of the regular 3,000, the people said.
The people said the position taken by Pakistani authorities reflected lack of seriousness in translating statements made by the country’s leadership into actions to ensure smooth and easy access for Indian Sikh pilgrims to sacred gurdwaras in Pakistan, especially on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
In a separate development, India on Tuesday shared a list of 575 pilgrims who will be part of the inaugural ‘jatha’ to use the Kartarpur Corridor to travel to Darbar Sahib gurdwara, built at the site where Guru Nanak spent the final years of his life. The list includes former prime minister Manmohan Singh, union ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh, and MPs and MLAs from Punjab.