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Uncertainty over jatha to Pakistan on Baisakhi

Amid the Covid spike, uncertainty prevails over the pilgrimage to Pakistan on Khalsa Sajna Divas (Baisakhi). The main event has been scheduled at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.

The SGPC will send a jatha to commemorate the occasion. About 878 passports of pilgrims have been sent to the government for visa.

Due to the growing Covid cases, the Punjab Government has imposed restrictions in the state and closed educational institutions till March 31. Night curfew has been imposed in nine districts. Similarly, the Union government has also held a review meeting with Chief Ministers. Due to the situation, the departure of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan on April 12 has again become uncertain.

Earlier, a day prior to the scheduled visit to Sri Nankana Sahib to mark the Saka Nankana Sahib centenary, the Centre had declined the permission to the jatha due to the security and Covid threat in February.

SGPC secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhurakona said, “Keeping in view the pandemic scenario, the Union government may not allow jatha to leave for Pakistan. But, we should be informed well in advance. Disappointment should not be there at the eleventh hour,” he said.

Khalsa Sajna Divas and Baisakhi falls on April 14. A contingent of Sikh pilgrims is scheduled to leave for Pakistan via Attari Wagah checkpoint on April 12.

On the other side of border, the PSGPC is all set to welcome the jatha. PSGPC president Satwant Singh said though the partial restrictions were there in the wake of Covid, yet the government had yet not raised any objections. He said due to coronavirus, precautionary measures have been taken in Pakistan as well.“We believe that the situation will be normalised if the health guidelines are observed. The India should allow the Sikhs to visit Pakistan,” he said. Last year, Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board scrapped the Baisakhi celebrations due to the Covid lockdown. In India, the jatha could not visit Pakistan on the occasion of Guru Arjan’s martyrdom anniversary and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary.

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