Rejecting 356 out of the total 793 applications endorsed by the apex Sikh body SGPC, Pakistan’s Islamic government has granted visas to 437 Sikh devotees for celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan. However, it is still unsure whether the Indian government would allow these devotees to cross the Indo-Pak border.
In total, the Pakistan government has granted visas to around 1,100 Sikh devotees for celebrating Vaisakhi.
Sharing the development with the media, SGPC’s additional secretary Partap Singh informed that the SGPC had sent visa applications of 793 Sikh devotees to the Pakistan Embassy through their official channel. “The names of 356 Sikh devotees have been removed by the Union government, Punjab government, and Pakistan consulate,” he added.
Balwinder Singh, secretary of SGPC’s pilgrimage department, informed that the visa-stamped passports of devotees would be handed over to them on April 10, i.e., after Covid-19 testing on April 9 and 10.
“On April 12, the jatha of Sikh devotees will be departed for Pakistan from SGPC’s headquarters to celebrate Vaisakhi,” he added.
In February this year, the Indian government had denied permission to the Sikh devotees for observing Saka Nankana’s centenary at the last moment when they were about to depart for Pakistan. At that time, the Indian government had cited “security reasons” while denying permission.
As the SGPC has been continuously backing farmers’ agitation, the BJP likely led the Indian government may again deny permission to Sikh devotees under the garb of COVID-19 or security issue.
Pakistani Sikhs won’t be allowed to visit Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib
Keeping in view the upsurge of Covid-19’s second wave, the Pakistan government has set a strict Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Indian Sikh devotees. All the Indian Sikh devotees would have to abide by this SOP during their journey to Pakistan.
On the other hand, the Pakistan government has banned all the Pakistani Sikhs as well as its others from attending Vaisakhi celebrations inside Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib.
However, the serving and former PSGPC officials will be allowed to attend these celebrations.
The pilgrimage schedule for the Indian Sikh devotees is as follow:
April 12: Arrival via Wahga Lahore from Attari (By Foot) from India to Sri Panja Sahib (Hassan Abdaal).
April 13: Stay at Sri Panja Sahib and Visit Shrine “Baba Wali Qandhari”
April 14: Main Ceremony – Bhog, Akhand Paath Sahib, and Depart to Sri Nankana Sahib
April 15: Visit of Local Gurdwara Sb Of Sri Nankana Sahib
April 16: Visit to Gurdwara Sacha Sauda (Farooq Abad) and back to Sri Nankana Sahib
April 17: Depart for Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore from Sri Nankana Sb (By Road)
April 18: Stay at Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore
April 19: Visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Narowal (By Road) along with Night Stay there
April 20: Depart for Gurdwara Rori Sb, Eminabad, and Back to Lahore (By Road)
April 21: Stay at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore
April 22: Departure for India via JCP Wahga to Attari India (By Road)