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LAHORE: Achyara Swami Gauri Shankar Das Udasin Maharaj, the head of Sadhubella temple in Sukkur (Pakistan) and six others in India, says the people continue to suffer due to poor relations between the two countries.

“The politics is driving the people away from love, peace, brotherhood, unity and harmony. There is no issue between the janta (people) of India and Pakistan as they feel happy and love for each other a lot since their forefathers had lived together for years before 1947,” Udasin Maharaj said while talking to Dawn after he arrived in Lahore on Monday to meet senior officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

Mr Maharaj says he always thinks why the love among the people of two countries is being sacrificed. “If both countries seriously want to come nearer to each other, they will have to discourage the element of hate first,” he said.

He said he and a large number of Sadhubella followers wanted the end to visa restrictions for promoting peace, love and people-to-people contact between the two countries. “We want the people of Pakistan and India should freely visit each other without visas,” he said.

He said the love was the only power that could settle all issues. He appealed to the rulers of both countries to resolve all differences, allowing millions of people to live peacefully with each other.

According to a spokesman, Mr Maharaj along with his four-member delegation met ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq, Additional Secretary Khalid Ali and Deputy Secretary (General/Hindu Temples Affairs) Syed Faraz Abbas.

He thanked the ETPB officials for allocating funds of Rs5 million for various activities of Sadhubella Mandir in Sukkur.

He also appreciated the Pakistan government for carrying out renovation/rehabilitation works at the Mandir. The ETPB chairman presented a memorial shield/souvenir to Mr Udasin Maharaj.

The Sadhubella’s central office is situated in Mumbai and operates with the registered name of Sri Sadhubella Udasin Ashram.

Sadhubella temples, sacred places or branches are also situated in Patiala (Punjab), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Uttar Kashi (Uttarakhand), Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh) and New Delhi.

SIKH PILGRIMS: Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims, who had arrived in Pakistan from India via Wagah to mark the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, spent a busy day in Lahore on Monday.

They visited Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort and also various markets for shopping.

The pilgrims will visit various Gurdwaras and temples in Aiminabad (Gujranwala) and Narowal on Tuesday (today). They will participate in the Maion ceremony at Gurdwara Dera Sahib (Lahore) on Wednesday (tomorrow). They will return to India on June 30, according to an ETPB spokesman.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2016