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SGPC flays Pakistan for barring Indian envoy in Islamabad from meeting Sikh pilgrims at Gurdwara Panja Sahib

The 266-member jatha went to Pakistan on June 21 to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Gurdwara Dehra Sahib. Pilgrims were staying at Gurdwara Panja Sahib when Indian envoy was not allowed to meet them on June 23.

punjab Updated: Jun 24, 2018 10:37 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Gurdwara Panja Sahib,Islamabad,Pakistan
A view of Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdala near Rawalpindi in Pakistan.(Reuters File)

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has condemned Pakistan for not allowing the Indian envoy in Islamabad and consular officials to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal near Rawalpindi to meet visiting Sikh pilgrims.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Langowal said that Pakistan’s action was not fair and that the officials were to meet pilgrims to enquire about their well-being. “It is the duty of Indian high commission officials to meet pilgrims and other Indian people visiting the neighbouring country,” he said.

The 266-member jatha went to Pakistan on June 21 to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29 at Gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore. They are also supposed to visit other shrines, including Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak.

The pilgrims were staying at Gurdwara Panja Sahib when they were denied permission to meet Indian high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria and other consular officials. The jatha was also denied to meet the high commissioner in April, when it went there to celebrate Baisakhi.

Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also condemned Islamabad’s outrageous act of refusing to allow India’s high commissioner to enter Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Terming it a shocking reflection of Islamabad’s blind and senseless animosity against New Delhi, the CM said by bringing religion into its political game plan, Pakistan had stooped to a new low in its relations with India, besides exposing its utter disdain for international and diplomatic conventions.

The CM, who also Tweeted his angst against Pakistan’s cheap and unholy act, said Islamabad had no right to prevent the Indian official from entering the gurdwara, which was a religious place open to everyone and not a military institution with restricted access.

Two woman pilgrims denied visa

Two women who wanted to go to Pakistan with the Sikh jatha without their kin were denied visa. The development comes two months after Kiran Bala, who went to Pakistan with the Sikh jatha to celebrate Baisakhi, did not return and married a Muslim man in Lahore.

The apex gurdwara body had sent 86 names seeking pilgrimage visa to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore. It has now been learnt that two names were rejected as they wanted go without kin.

SGPC spokesperson Diljit Singh Bedi said: “We cannot stop any Sikh pilgrim from being part of the Sikh jatha. If a woman is over 50 and wants to go alone, she can be permitted provided her kin takes the responsibility.”

“We can only send names, rest is the job of the government and intelligence agencies,” he said.

First Published: Jun 24, 2018 10:37 IST