Pakistan starts issuing visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims

Published: September 15, 2019
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File photo of Sikh pilgrims (PHOTO: FILE)

File photo of Sikh pilgrims (PHOTO: FILE)

LAHORE: Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi has started issuing visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims who want to participate in the Pakistan-India Nagar Kirtan, which would start on October 28 in New Delhi and reach Janam Astana Shri Nankana Sahib on October 31.

The Nagar Kirtan is a rally for the Sikh religious book, Guru Granth Sahib, which is decorated in Palki Sahib and will be brought from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib accompanied by Sikh pilgrims.

Invitations to welcome the Nagar Kirtan at the Wagah border have been sent to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and other federal and provincial ministers.

Preparations are underway to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in a historical manner in India and Pakistan.

The former head of Delhi Gurdwara Management Company and the administrator of Nagar Kirtan Sardar Paramjit Singh Sarna informed The Express Tribune that the Pakistani high commission had started issuing visas for Nagar Kirtan.

A total of 1,500 visas would be issued and the process for most of the visas has been completed.  He said Pakistan government and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had given permission for Nagar Kirtan in 2018.

Sarna said two delegations would visit Pakistan – first on September 20 and then on October 2. These delegations would be given one week visa, while the participants of the Nagar Kirtan are being issued visa from October 31 till November 14.

He said he arrived in Pakistan a few weeks back and has invited Punjab governor, Punjab chief minister, federal minister for religious affairs, other ministers and committees of Sain Mian Mir Foundation, Hazrat Data Ali Hajweri and Hazrat Baba Farid shrines to welcome Nagar Kirtan at Wagah border.

In response to a question, Sarna said the charge of Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee is in the hands of people who are doing politics. He observed that the committee was collecting money from different gurdwaras for Nagar Kirtan but Pakistan has only given permission for one Nagar Kirtan.

Sarna said they would take out a small Nagar Kirtan from New Delhi to Bahadur Garh. He noted that Shri Akal Takht Sahib has also supported them and declared that they stand with the Nagar Kirtan.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee’s Pardhan Sardar Satwant Singh said hundreds of Sikhs would welcome Nagar Kirtan at the Wagah border and that arrangements of food and stay are being made for the participants.

After the creation of Pakistan, this will be the first religious rally of Sikhs, which would move from New Delhi and reach Nankana Sahib.

Earlier on August 1, 2019, one Nagar Kirtan had left from Nankana Sahib to Sultan Pur Lodhi, India, and is still passing by many different states.

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