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Amritsar decks up to welcome Manmohan

The city had been given a virtual fresh look with re-carpeted roads and a cleanliness drive in recent days.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, Amritsar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2006 05:30 PM IST

Amritsar has been decked up to receive Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who will flag off the historic Amritsar- Nankana Sahib bus from Amritsar on Friday morning.

The city had been given a virtual fresh look with re-carpeted roads and a cleanliness drive in recent days.

Hoardings welcoming the prime minister, who arrives on Thursday night, have been put up at all important places.

But even before the bus from this holy city to the birthplace of the Nanak Dev in Pakistan has embarked on its maiden journey, a politico-religious controversy has come to surround it.

Sikh religious leaders, especially those owing allegiance to Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) have distanced from the bus service.

"At present, we are boycotting the launch of the bus service because the organisations representing Sikhs had been deliberately overlooked by the Congress in Punjab for this big occasion," an SGPC spokesman said.

The Sikh leaders were annoyed that the first passengers of the 40-seater bus, a luxury coach named Punjab, were the chosen ones -- ministers, officials and others close to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and their family members.

They said that the right people should have boarded the bus on its historic maiden journey.

Punjab Roadways general manager Lakhwinder Singh said: "A number of VIPs are travelling on the first bus to Nankana Sahib and we are making proper arrangements for them."

The Amritsar to Lahore bus service was started between both cities December last year.

The Nankana Sahib bus was bound to attract passengers since hundreds of Sikhs and others visited the Pakistan shrine every year on religious occasions.

Manmohan Singh will also address a public rally at the Ranjit Avenue grounds.

Senior police officials said the prime minister would land at Rajasansi airport at about 10 pm on Thursday.

He will stay at the newly renovated circuit house.

Soon after his arrival, Manmohan Singh will meet his close relatives.

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