All set to welcome Sikh pilgrims

Published April 11, 2015
Indian Sikh pilgrims arrive at Wagah Railway Station in Wagah, to celebrate Baisakhi, or the Sikh New Year. – AFP/File
Indian Sikh pilgrims arrive at Wagah Railway Station in Wagah, to celebrate Baisakhi, or the Sikh New Year. – AFP/File

LAHORE: Around 2,000 Sikh pilgrims from India intending to participate in the annual Baisakhi festival in Pakistan have so far been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

More pilgrims (yatrees) are likely to be issued visas very soon, according to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman.

“In addition to this, 1,500 pilgrims from the UK, the US, Canada and Malaysia are likely to attend the festival scheduled to start from Saturday (today). Some of them have already arrived in Lahore,” ETPB chief Siddiqul Farooq told reporters at a press conference here on Friday.

He said the bureau was all set to facilitate the pilgrims and make their trip comfortable vis-à-vis security, lodging, boarding and travelling.

“On Saturday (today) morning, the ETPB administration led by me and members of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee will personally receive the yatrees at Wagah Railway Station,” he added.

Farooq said he had talked to Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada who had told him about foolproof security arrangements for the pilgrims at all the places they would visit in the 10 days of their stay.

To a question, he said 157 rooms had been renovated at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal for the yatrees’ stay.

Meanwhile, Lahore Commissioner Abdullah Khan Sumbal held a meeting to review the administrative and security arrangements in Lahore and Nankana Sahib on the eve of Baisakhi festival. The meeting was told that a central control room had been set-up at the offices of district coordination officers of Lahore, Sheikhupura and Nankana.

The commissioner directed police and city district administrations to maintain close liaison with the ETPB during the entire trip.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2015

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