Monday, January 18, 2021

Sikhs Protest at Attari Railway Station Against Indian Government’s Apathy: Reports

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.

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