THE B.C. Chapter of the Association of NRI (Non-Resident Indians) Pensioners Abroad is requesting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reach out to the Indian government to start direct flights between Vancouver/Toronto and Amritsar’s Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in light of the 400th birth anniversary celebrations of the ninth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, all over the world this year.
They note that there has been an increasing demand for the direct flights by the Punjabi Diaspora, including Canadian citizens, permanent residents, students and their extended families, and by the Amritsar Vikas Manch (a community development non profit non governmental organization committed towards the cause for all round development of Amritsar.)
In a letter to Trudeau, Harcharan Singh Sandhu, Chief Patron, and Jagrup Singh Khera, Patron, of ANRIPA, BC Chapter, Surrey, point out:
“Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) Amritsar has a world record of visitors (over 35 million) in a year. Like Mecca for the followers of the Islam, Darbar Sahib is the most sacred place for the Punjabi Diaspora especially the Sikhs in the world. It is a holy pilgrimage and millions of devotees from all over the world are expected to pay their obeisance at Darbar Sahib during the centennial celebrations. Obviously, Amritsar would be a centre for various types of socio-religious and economic activities during the year and beyond. In addition, other historic and religious sites at Amritsar like Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple, Ram Tirath etc. do also attract visitors from abroad.
“It is not a secret that millions of people settled in North American continent travel back and forth to Amritsar and Punjab every year to visit their roots and see their loved ones left behind. Punjabi people settled in Canada and largely in GTA and the lower mainland of B.C. had been pressing hard for a flight from Toronto and Vancouver direct to Amritsar and it is viable and beneficial to both – the operator and the travellers in the present circumstances.
“It would be a tribute to the ninth Sikh Guru Shri Teg Bahadur Ji who sacrificed his life to safeguard the “human rights”, mutual love and peace which are the basic characteristics of Canadian society and our nation. The visitors from Eastern America can fly from Toronto whereas those of Western America from Vancouver which is sure to boost Canadian economy and business considerably.
“Recently under Air-bubble agreement, both Air Canada and Air India resumed Delhi-Toronto flights. India’s national carrier also launched for the first time a direct flight between Delhi and Vancouver which is open for reservation until March, 2022. These direct flights are a boon to the travellers and going full-load. Even nowadays, these flights fly over Amritsar but do not touch the Amritsar airport. Hence this request to reroute these flights via Amritsar. This decision in honour of 4th Centenary of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji will definitely benefit millions of travellers and send a message of goodwill to the Sikhs across the world. This direct link has an enormous potential to boost Indo-Canadian economy, trade & commerce, tourism and bilateral relations between both the countries. It is a need of the hour as we think.”