Sikh jatha returns from Pakistan, but without Kiran Bala
Bala, a Sikh woman from Garhshankar in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, who was part of the jatha, went missing while on a pilgrimage and later it was found that she married a Muslim on April 16punjab Updated: Apr 21, 2018 22:49 IST
The Sikh jatha returned after visiting Sikh holy shrines in Pakistan on Saturday but without one of its members, Kiran Bala, now Amna Bibi, who embraced Islam and married a Lahore man.
The 717-member jatha, led by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) executive member Gurmeet Singh Booh, left for Pakistan on April 12 to celebrate Baisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
Bala, a Sikh woman from Garhshankar in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, who was part of the jatha, went missing while on a pilgrimage and later it was found that she married a Muslim on April 16.
She was married to a mechanic, Narinder Singh, who died in a road accident in 2013, and has left behind her three children, aged 6, 8 and 12, with whom she lived at her in-laws’ home here.
It was being said that the Pakistani authorities might deport her as her visa was to expire on Saturday, but following the Lahore high court direction to the interior ministry to decide on her application for Pakistani citizenship and extension to her visa in 30 days, she was allowed to stay there.
“After celebrating the foundation day of the Khalsa Panth, we went to Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, on April 15 and stayed there for two days. The next day, we paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sacha Sauda and then visited Sikh shrines in Lahore. On April 19, we visited Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal,” said Booh on arrival at the railway station.
When asked about Kiran Bala, he said: “There was tight security arrangement at Gurdwara Panja Sahib and it was not possible for anyone to flee. But the pilgrims got relaxation on arriving at Nankana Sahib. We learnt about her move when we reached Lahore.”
Booh also endorsed Pakistan’s clarification on accusations made by India that “the Sikh pilgrims were denied consular access in Pakistan”.
On arriving at the Attari railway station after visiting Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Booh said: “Sikhs in Pakistan were protesting against the controversial movie, Nanak Shah Fakir, at Gurdwara Panja Sahib. To prevent any untoward incident, officials of the Indian consulate were not permitted to meet us.”
“But the next day, they met us at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib,” he said, adding: “The arrangements there were up to the mark. We are impressed by their hospitality.”
According to the ministry of external affairs, the Indian high commissioner to Pakistan was asked to return from Gurdwara Panja Sahib for unspecified security reasons on April 14.