1,700 Indian Sikhs arrive in Pakistan to celebrate Vaisakhi


Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore.
Photo by Indira Prahst

Lahore (PTI): About 1,700 Sikh pilgrims from India arrived in Pakistan on Thursday to celebrate the Vaisakhi festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Rawalpindi district.

The Sikhs, who arrived at Wagah railway station by special trains, were greeted by Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Secretary Tariq Khan, Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee president Sardar Tara Singh and other officials.

“Some 1,700 India Sikhs arrived here by special trains to attend festivities and Vaisakhi Mela at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal in Rawalpindi (some 250 km from Lahore), said Amir Hashmi, a spokesman of ETPB that looks after the holy places of minorities in the country.

He said the main event will be held on April 14 in which a large number of local Sikh and Hindus will also participate.

During their 10-day stay, the Indian pilgrims will also visit their other holy places including Gurudwara Janamesthan Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore.

They will leave for India on April 21.

A visiting Sikh leader Sardar Gurmeet Singh said the yatrees always receive love from the people of Pakistan.

He said there should be peace and more people-to-people contact between the two countries. He also urged both governments for provision of hassle-free visa.

ETPB Secretary Tariq Khan said fool-proof security arrangements have been made for the Sikh pilgrims.

“Rangers and elite force police personnel are deployed for the Sikh pilgrims’ security,” he said, adding that all other arrangements including accommodation, medical services, trained doctors, currency exchange and free food have been made.