Nine-hour ordeal for Pak-bound Sikh jatha


Awaiting Centre’s nod, Attari railway authorities delay green signal | Pilgrims allege harassmentAs many as 169 pilgrims on way to Pakistan to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev remained stranded at the Attari railway station for around nine hours today.
Despite possessing valid visa documents, they were not allowed to proceed to the other side of the border due to lack of communication between the railway station authorities and the Ministry of External Affairs. The agitated pilgrims raised slogans against the government to lodge their protest. They were allowed to go only after the clearance came at 5.50 pm.
Attari station incharge SS Madan said the customs and immigration process was furnished only after the ministry’s approval. “As soon as we got the approval from the ministry, we took no time to sort out the matter at our end,” he said.
This jatha, sponsored by the SAD (Delhi), will visit Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib in Lahore.
Maninder Singh Dhuna, political secretary of former DSGMC president and SAD (Delhi) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna, said the pilgrimage was planned for Pakistan to observe the martyrdom day on June 16 as per the original Nanakshahi calendar. The Centre harassed the pilgrims at the instance of the Punjab government, he alleged.
The jatha comprising mostly elderly people faced inconvenience at the railway station. The pilgrims had to take shelter under the trees to get relief from the scorching heat.
Pritpal Singh (72) and his wife, who came from Dehradun, alleged that despite having proper documents, they were subjected to harassment for no fault of theirs. “We felt like some culprits who were detained by the police,” he said.
Dharamvir Singh (68) and his wife said there was no provision for stay at the Attari station which was considered an international platform. “Even there is no proper facility for drinking water or washrooms,” he said.
Jasbir Singh of Dehradun who was leading the jatha said: “We received a communication from the Pakistan Waqf Board president that they have made the arrangements. But the delay at Attari sent wrong signals to Pakistan about the inefficiency our system”, he said.

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