AMRITSAR: Various Sikh societies in India have alleged that Pakistan High Commission in Delhi often rejects visas of Hindus who apply for pilgrimage to Pakistan along with Sikh jathas, which is unfortunate.
While talking to TOI on Friday, Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, said a large number of Hindu followers apply for visas to Pakistan for paying obeisance at various Sikh shrines in the neighboring country but are disappointed after being denied the documents.
“This time also I have applied for visas for 16 Hindus who aspire to travel along with a Sikh jatha to Pakistan to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev but I am not sure that they will be given the visas,” said Bhullar.
The leader of another Sikh group who also takes jathas to Pakistan told TOI on condition of anonymity that when they took up the issue with the officials of the Pak High Commission in Delhi, they threatened they “will deny visas to two Sikh applicants for every Hindu applicant”.
Sources said that a total of 3,250 people have applied for visas to Pakistan for the upcoming Guru Nanak jayanti celebrations, however, as per the protocol agreement, a total of 2,500 visas would be issued.
Sources added that Pakistan had always been making attempts to create a wedge between Hindus and Sikhs since “it has lent support to Khalistan movement, which is spearheaded by a handful of Sikh militants”. “Denying visas to Hindus who wish to travel along with Sikh jathas is part of Pak ISI’s anti-India plan and they have been successfully executing the same,” said a source.
“We have decided to take up the issue with Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Aamir Singh to press the Pakistani government for issuing liberal visas to Hindu followers for pilgrimage along with Sikh jathas,” the source said.
Besides Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, small Sikh groups from Amritsar, Chabhal, Dabwali, Jammu, Bathinda etc. also send jathas to Pakistan every year on different religious occasions.
Chief secretary of SGPC Harcharan Singh Dhami said that the Pakistan High Commission “had their own criteria for issuing visas, which are not known to us”.
He added that the pilgrims had to get themselves both doses of Covid-19 vaccination, besides they should be carrying negative Covid test report, issued not more than 72 hours before crossing the border.
While expressing ignorance over the issue of visa denial, spokesperson of Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board Aamir Hashmi said that they had planned the birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev from November 17 to 27.
“We will receive the Indian Sikh jathas at Wagah international border and depart for Nankana Sahib where the main ceremony will be held on November 19, following which they will travel to Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Farooqabad; Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hasanabdal; Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore; Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, Kartarpur; and Gurdwara Rorri Sahib, Eminabad; before coming back to India on November 27,” Hashmi said.

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