No MEA nod, Pak-bound Sikh pilgrims return from Attari - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

No MEA nod, Pak-bound Sikh pilgrims return from Attari


No MEA nod, Pak-bound Sikh pilgrims return from Attari

GS Paul
Tribune News Service
Attari, June 14

Around 130 pilgrims, who were supposed to cross over to Pakistan for observing the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, had to return from the Attari Shyam Singh railway station in the evening for want of permission from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

While possessing valid visa, the dejected lot of pilgrims had arrived at the station early this morning from different parts of Punjab and other states.

A special train from Pakistan that the pilgrims were supposed to board had arrived on the Wagah track, but was not allowed to enter Attari. As the formalities could not be done, it returned.

Raising anti-government slogans, the agitated pilgrims complained of lack of communication between the Railways and MEA. The pilgrims also lamented poor arrangements at the Attari railway station.

Braving the heat, Rajdeep Singh, a pilgrim, said the Attari station did not justify being called an “international platform”.

“We have been here since 7 am. There was no adequate facility for drinking water or toilets. We understand that the Indian government has issues with Pakistan, but why should the sangat be punished,” he said.

However, the railway authorities showed helplessness. They said the pilgrims, who waited outside the station in the heat, could be allowed inside for the customs and immigration process only after an official nod was received.

“Had we received approval from the ministry, we would have taken no time to clear the formalities,” said ML Rai, Station Officer at the Attari station.

Pilgrims said Pakistan had issued them visa on June 4 and the visa was valid from June 14 to 23.

Bhai Mardana Yaadgari Kirtan Darbar Society (Ferozepur) chief Harpal Singh Bhullar said it happened earlier too. “The governments of both sides should not settle their political scores at the cost of disrupting religious functions,” he said.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said, “The Pakistan authorities’ denial to us was condemnable, but the Indian authorities not allowing the Sikh devotees to go to Pakistan is equally deplorable.”

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