TAXILA: Over 3,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims are due in Hassanabdal on April 14 to offer their religious rituals in connection with Baisakhi, their religious festival, which marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and harvesting season.

Deputy administrator Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Yasir Asghar while talking to newsmen on Saturday said that around 3,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims would arrive Wagah border on April 13 and then Hassanabdal through special trains and the main event of the festival would be held on April 14 in which devotees would perform rites such as Akhand, Paath Sahib, Bhog, Ardas and Hukamnama.

He said it was expected that over 10,000 Sikh pilgrims from across the world would participate in the festival.

Meanwhile, the district administration has finalised a contingency plan for the upcoming Baisakhi festival at Gurdwara.

Over 10,000 Sikh pilgrims from around the world to perform rituals

Talking to journalists, Deputy Commissioner Rao Atif Raza said: “We have finalised plans in collaboration with Evacuee Trust Property Board and Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for security, food and accommodation at the gurdwara for the pilgrims.”

He expressed determination to provide better facilities to Sikh pilgrims in collaboration with Evacuee Trust Property Board and Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee adding that pilgrims visiting from all over the world, especially India, will be facilitated during their visit so that they are able to perform their religious rituals freely during their stay here.

He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made so far by various government departments.

He further said that accommodation, medical, and security arrangements should be completed for the pilgrims so those coming from abroad do not face any problem.

He said a foolproof security plan had been put in place for Sikh pilgrims.

He said around 1,000 police officers and personnel will be deployed to monitor the security.

He said that apart from this, 50 security cameras, 12 walkthrough gates and 40 metal detectors would be installed as well. He said that besides this regular force, 26 sections of elite commandos will be on constant alert and patrol for the protection of Sikh pilgrims while shops close to the temple would remain closed and Rescue 1122 officials would be present on high alert.

“Under the plan, Sikhs pilgrims would not be allowed to leave the temple during their stay and accommodation would be provided within the premises,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2024

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