Amritsar, Punjab: Despite the Taliban’s threat to target Indians post-Kasab hanging, over 2,000 Sikh pilgrims, including an 889-member SGPC jatha, today left for Pakistan to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev at historic shrines.
The pilgrims were enthusiastic about their visit. They said they were not concerned by any threat. “We are going to pay obeisance at our holy shrines which every Sikh wishes to visit at least once in his lifetime,” they added. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar has already written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf, urging them to take necessary measures to ensure security of the pilgrims.
Indian Railway delayed arrival of local train
Meanwhile, the pilgrims had a tough time boarding the train to Pakistan. The pilgrims started reaching the station as early as 9 am, but there was no sign of train till 11 am. When railway officials said they had no idea about the train’s arrival in Amritsar, the harried pilgrims started boarding taxis, auto-rickshaws and other modes of transport to reach the Attari railway station. Later, the SGPC arranged buses for sending the pilgrims to Attari. Irked by the confusion, a section of pilgrims resorted to sloganeering against the Central Government and the SGPC at the Attari railway station.
The first train from Pakistan arrived at Attari at 12.40 pm and left for Pakistan at 2.45 pm. The second train, however, arrived at the Amritsar railway station after 2 pm, but by that time most of the pilgrims had left the city for Attari. The train subsequently left for Attari.
Earlier, the SGPC jatha began its journey from the SGPC headquarters in the presence of SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh. He said visas were denied to 971 pilgrims out of 1,860 applications forwarded by the SGPC to the Pakistan Embassy.
The SGPC secretary said the jatha would pay obeisance at Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sacha Sauda on December 26. It would visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib on November 29 and Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore, on November 30 before returning on December 4.