Sikh jatha can go to Pakistan ‘at own risk’ if SGPC gives undertaking to MEA
With visas for Sikh pilgrims awaited for a planned June 21-29 visit to Pakistan, the ministry of external affairs has asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is facilitating the trip, to give an undertaking that the jatha (group) members will go to the neighbouring country at their own risk.
The SGPC had in the latest sent 251 passports to the Pakistani embassy in Delhi for visas to a jatha that wants to visit the country for the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It had this time approached the MEA, too, as a jatha that wanted to go to Pakistan for martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev was denied visas last month due to alleged lack of clearance from the Union home ministry.
“We are very concerned about the visas as we understand and respect the sentiments of the Sikh sangat (community) that wants to go to Pakistan for pilgrimage,” said SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh. “Today I took up the matter with MEA officials and was told that security is a big issue in the current situation between the two nations. That’s the reason that the home ministry had not given clearance (to another jatha) recently, they told me.”
“We’ve been advised that the SGPC give an undertaking that the jatha will be going to Pakistan on its own risk and responsibility. We are yet to decide on that,” he added.