After confusion, Pakistan gives permission for nagar kirtan to Indian Sikh pilgrims
Trouble began when officials of Pakistan’s ETPB feigned ignorance about Sikh institutions — SGPC and DSGMC — at a meeting.Updated: Aug 01, 2019, 13:57 IST
A day after saying that it has no official communication about the “nagar kirtan” being taken out by Indian Sikh bodies from Nankana Sahib, the Pakistan government on Wednesday gave permission for the religious procession but not before heated arguments between officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and heads of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
Trouble began when ETPB officials feigned ignorance about Sikh institutions — SGPC and DSGMC — at a meeting. DSGMC president Manjinder Singh Sirsa said it was laughable that the management of the ETPB doesn’t know about the Sikh bodies. “When you are taking keen interest in Sikh matters, you must know about their institutions,” he said, adding “the very basis of visit was the religious procession from the birthplace of Guru Nanak and the Pakistan high commission in India was informed about the programme in advance”.
The ETPB administers properties of Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India after Partition.
Besides Sirsa, Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, chief secretary Roop Singh, ETPB chairman Amir Ahmed, secretary Tariq Wazir and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) chief Satwant Singh were present at the meeting.
On Tuesday, nearly 500 Sikh pilgrims entered Pakistan through the Attrai-Wagah border on way to Nankana Sahib in Punjab province of the neighbouring country to celebrate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. As part of the celebrations, pilgrims will take out a “nagar kirtan” from Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to Sultanpur Lodhi on August 1.
As per the initial plan, the procession was to begin on July 25, but the Pakistan government postponed it owing to rains in Nankana Sahib. “The programme was postponed but never cancelled,” said Longowal.
Starting from Nanakana Sahib, the “nagar kirtan” will visit five Takhts (temporal seats) of the Sikh faith — Akal Takht in Amritsar, Takht Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Takht Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, Takht Patna Sahib in Patna and Takht Hazur Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra, before reaching Sultanpur Lodhi in November to mark the Guru’s 550th birth anniversary.
The fate to two other “nagar kirtans” — one planned by the DSGMC from Delhi to Nankana Sahib on October 15 and another by SAD (Delhi) also from Delhi to the birthplace of Guru Nanak from October 28 — is uncertain as the Pakistan government is yet to accord permission.
After the meeting, the Akal Takht jathedar presented Quran translated in Gurmukhi to the ETPB chairman.
Giving details of the preparations for the Guru’s birth anniversary, ETPB chairman Amir Ahmed said a tent city would come up in Nankana Sahib and arrangement would be made to accommodate 10,000 pilgrims. “The Pakistan government is working out a plan to allow pilgrims to Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and also Nankana Sahib in November,” said Ahmed.