Sikh jatha to visit Pak under shadow of Taliban threat

Amritsar, Punjab: Taliban’s fresh threat to target Indians to avenge the hanging of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab has worried over 3000 Sikh devotees scheduled to leave for Pakistan on November 22 to pay obeisance at gurdwaras in the neighbouring country on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The Jathedar of Akal Takht has directed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to take up the issue of security of Sikh jatha visiting Pakistan. Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh said he had asked SGPC as well as the Central government to ensure security of pilgrims visiting Pakistan to observe religious occasions.

“Union government should take up the issue of safety and security of pilgrims with Pakistan government on priority,” he said. Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee president Paramjit Singh Sarna said despite Taliban’s threat, Sikhs’ would visit Pakistan to celebrate the Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev.

A 3000-strong Sikh jatha would leave for Pakistan to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 25. The jatha would visit Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hasanabdal and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib before returning on December 4.

SGPC alone has applied visa for 1855 devotees while other organizations like Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society and Nankana Sahib Sikh Teerath Yatra have also independently applied for visas.
Though the organizers in Pakistan have given assurances of adequate security but the SGPC is not confident enough. SGPC in charge of the event Jaspal Singh said, “Security for Sikh jatha in Pakistan is for namesake only and there are several loopholes which need to be addressed”.

Chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board Sayed Asif Hashmi told TOI over phone from Lahore that they had made foolproof security arrangements for the devotees. “As the chairman, ETPB, it is my duty to provide security to each and every devotee visiting Pakistan. Right from entry of pilgrims in Pakistan till their return they would be covered under several layers of security.”

He, however, denied that his office had received any official intimation of fresh threat of targeting Indians by Taliban following Kasab’s hanging on Wednesday in India.


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