Amritsar: As per media reports Government of Pakistan is planning to bar people of other faiths from accompanying Sikh jathas which visit the Pak situated gurdwaras to celebrate religious festivals.
The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Pakistan, has initiated deliberations to impose a ban on Muslim, Hindu or Christian devotees to enter Pakistan as members of the Sikh jathas.
According to Hindustan Times Imran Gondal, spokesperson and deputy director of ETPB, said the matter is on the level of discussion and the board is seriously thinking in this regard in view of the act of two pilgrims—Kiran Bala and Amarjit Singh—who came along with a Sikh jatha from India via Attari-Wagah border on April 12 but did not return with it on April 22.
Kiran Bala, hailing from Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, embraced Islam and married a Lahore-based man. On the basis of marriage, she has got visa extension for six months. Her pilgrimage visa was of 10 days like other members of the jatha.
Another pilgrim Amarjit left the jatha at Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, to meet his facebook friend at Sheikhupura. As he did not return on April 22, Amarjit was deported on April 24.
The ETPB did not consider them as members of the Sikh community. “The ETPB has taken a serious note of the acts of both the pilgrims who were non-Sikhs. We are discussing the matter with different bodies concerned. In coming days, the board will conduct a meeting with Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the government departments concerned to consult the matter with them,” Gondal said.
He however refuted media reports that such a ban has already been imposed. “The final decision on the issue is yet to be taken,” Gondal said.
He also made it clear that Hindu pilgrims would only be able to visit the country on the occasion of their religious festivals, according to the proposed travel restrictions.
He said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) does not send the details of Sikh pilgrims to the board, due to which recognition of the pilgrims becomes a hurdle. He said the SGPC has been asked to send such details to the board.