Home South Asia India Protest against India’s disrespect for religious rituals

Protest against India’s disrespect for religious rituals

Sikh Pilgrims were left stranded at Attari when Indian authorities denied clearance to the special train Pakistan had dispatched to pick them up for the Jorr festival. Once again, India has exhibited disrespect for Sikh religious rituals by barring them clearance for a sacred festival.

protest

News Desk |

Sikh pilgrims staged a protest demonstrated at the Attari railway station on Friday to express their dissent at the Indian government’s refusal to allow the Pakistani-sent special train to enter Indian Territory to pick them for the Jorr Mela Yatra.

The vexed pilgrims, who were carrying their belongings, visas and all relevant travel documents, were left stranded at the Attari railway station, forced to wait for hours. Pakistan dispatched a special train to pick the Sikh pilgrims from India and facilitate them to take part in the Jorr Mela, which is held annually to commemorate the death anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev.

Media reports reveal that the Sikh pilgrims demonstrated a protest at the railway station, and chanted slogans against the Indian authorities responsible for this fiasco.

Ravinder Singh Robin, an independent Punjabi journalist, reported news of the protest from Attari. He tweeted, “About 100 Sikhs (headed) to Pakistan stuck at Attari as reportedly Centre denies permission. The pilgrims were going to Pakistan to observe the martyrdom day anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth spiritual master of the Sikhs. Pilgrims staged protest at Attari.”

Read more: Sikh pilgrims celebrate Baisakhi Festival in Pakistan

Media reports reveal that the Sikh pilgrims demonstrated a protest at the railway station, and chanted slogans against the Indian authorities responsible for this fiasco.

Sikh Pilgrims Displeased

Tara Singh, a Sikh leader of the Gurdwara, regretted that political dynamics are not stopping pilgrims from performing sacred religious rituals. He said, “It is unacceptable to prohibit people from practising religious rituals due to politics.”

Prominent Sikh leaders and activists also condemned the Indian authorities for barring the special train dispatched by Pakistan from crossing the Wagah border. It appears that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had not provided clearance for the train.

Once again, India has exhibited the same irresponsible behaviour that it displayed back in 2017, when Sikh pilgrims were prohibited from attending religious rituals. The special train dispatched by Pakistan arrived at the Wagah railway station at 9 am on Friday, to pick up around 146 Sikh pilgrims and bring them to Pakistan.

Tara Singh, a Sikh leader of the Gurdwara, regretted that political dynamics are not stopping pilgrims from performing sacred religious rituals.

The Pakistani authorities responsible for the pilgrims kept reaching out the Indian authorities, pleading them to allow clearance for the train so that the stranded Sikh pilgrims, more than 130 people, could be brought to Lahore, from where they would head towards their destination for the 10-day Jorr festival.

Read more: UK Sikhs to invest £500m for religious tourism in Pakistan

The train waited for the pilgrims until 12:40 pm, but the Indian authorities refused to cooperate and did not provide clearance for the train to pick up the Sikh pilgrims. The pilgrims had boarded the train and were all set to leave, but the Indian authorities denied clearance.

From the Pakistani side, senior officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Sikh officials from the Pakistan Gurdwara Parban-Dhak Committee, and other administrative officials were present at the Wagah railway station to receive the Sikh pilgrims and accompany them to Lahore.

However, Pakistani officials lamented that the Indian authorities failed to do their part in facilitating the journey, and forced the Sikh yatris to remain stranded at Attari for hours in scorching heat.

Media reports reveal that despite restrictions, eight pilgrims succeeded in entering Pakistan on foot through the Wagah Attari border.

Pakistan’s Generous Gesture Rejected

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has provided visas to over 200 Indian Sikh pilgrims to attend the Jorr festival. However, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs failed to perform its duties in providing clearance to the train dispatched to receive the pilgrims.

India has exhibited the same irresponsible behaviour that it displayed back in 2017, when Sikh pilgrims were prohibited from attending religious rituals.

Pakistan and India are bound by a bilateral agreement, as per which, Pakistan can issue visas to around 500 pilgrims for the Jorr festival. In 2018, less than 50 Sikh pilgrims from India attended this festival, primarily because in 2017, India had barred 80 pilgrims and rejected Pakistan’s generous offer to dispatch a special train to receive them.

Later, on 28th June 2017, the Indian authorities and Ministry of External affairs did not provide around 300 Sikh pilgrims the clearance to commemorate the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore.

Read more: India to complete Sikh pilgrimage corridor by Sept. 30

Pakistan had made extraordinary arrangements to provide boarding, lodging and security to the Sikh pilgrims arriving for the festival. A ceremony was organized for the pilgrims on 16th June; however, Indian authorities forced the pilgrims to return back to their homes after leaving them stranded at Attari.

An unnamed official of the ETPB spoke to Dawn, “We had made extraordinary arrangements for the lodging, boarding, security, etc., of 146 pilgrims. On June 16, the main ceremony in this regard has been scheduled to be organized here. But India didn’t see this and forced the pilgrims to return homes from Attari. It is really against the universally admitted fundamental rights of the people.”

It was clear that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs was aware of the visas issued by the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi, however, the Indian MEA’s reasons for such gross disrespect for religious sentiments remains unclear.

Read more: Diplomatic Wars: Sikh pilgrimage gets targeted by India

Media reports reveal that the issue arose over the exact date of the festival, assigned in the Pakistani calendar of Sikh religious rituals, the Nanak Shahi calendar. Some people considered the festival to be dated 6th June, however, the Sikh pilgrim communities and organizations in India and Pakistan had agreed upon the dates after associating them with the Gregorian calendar.

Since majority of the Sikh pilgrims celebrate the festival on 16th June, hundreds applied for the visas according to this date. Despite all the preparations by the Pakistani authorities and devout Sikh pilgrims, the Indian authorities stubbornly refused to provide clearance to the train waiting to bring the pilgrims to their destination.

Facebook Comments