A number of Sikh pilgrims reportedly protested at the Attari railway station against the Indian government after a special train from Pakistan was not allowed to enter India to pick them for Jorr Mela.
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The irate sikh pilgrims despite carrying valid visa and travel documents were stranded at the Attari railway station. The pilgrims were to take part in the Jorr Mela, which marks the death anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev.
“It is a matter of great displeasure that India once again behaved as it did in 2017,” said an official of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) while talking to Pakistan Media – Dawn. On Friday, the official said, the special train reached the Wagah railway station at 9 am to pick as many as 146 Sikh pilgrims.
Protest staged at Attari railway station against New Delhi for disallowing train from Pakistan to pick them
“Our authorities contacted their Indian counterparts, again and again, to accept and allow entry of the train to their territory for picking and bringing the Yatris to Lahore so that they could proceed to their destination for attending the 10-day-long Jorr festival.
“But it is very sad that at about 12.40pm they [Indian authorities] finally refused to allow the train to pick the Yatris,” the official explained.
“We all, senior ETPB officials, Sikh office-bearers of Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, local administration and others concerned, remained present at Wagah to welcome the pilgrims. But India didn’t bother [to facilitate their travel], forcing the pilgrims to remain stranded at Attari for hours.”
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had issued visas to around 200 Indian Sikh pilgrims for attending the festival.
Under a bilateral agreement between the two countries, Pakistan can issue visas to as many as 500 pilgrims for this event. Last year, a meagre number of pilgrims (less than 50) visited Pakistan for this event. But in 2017, India disallowed 80 pilgrims after rejecting Pakistan’s request of sending a special train to pick them on June 8.
Yet some 14 pilgrims, who had visa to enter Pakistan on foot via Wagah border, succeeded in crossing the border. Later on June 28, 2017, the Indian authorities once again did not allow 300 Sikh community members to attend the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, citing refusal by the Ministry of External Affairs to clear their names.