The Times of India – SGPC says MEA declined permission to send jatha to Pakistan

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 20 May 2017. A day after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Pakistan should stay the execution of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) claimed that the Union external affairs ministry did not give it permission to send a jatha (group of pilgrims) to Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of fifth Sikh master Guru Arjan Dev.

Quoting their representative Mohinder Singh’s report, prepared after visiting the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh said on Friday that the visas were not issued to the Sikh jatha in the absence of a nod from the external affairs ministry.

He said it was unfortunate since the religious sentiments of Sikhs were attached to the historical gurdwaras of Pakistan, where they always aspired to pay obeisance.

On the other hand, other smaller Sikh groups claimed that visas were denied to SGPC since it was not sending jathas according to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) programme.

Bhai Mardana Yadgar Kirtan Darbar Society president Harpal Singh Bhullar said SGPC’s jatha programme was from May 21 to 29, whereas PSGPC’s programme was from June 8 to 17.

“According to the amended version of Nanakshahi calendar (NC), SGPC will observe the day on May 28, whereas according to the calendar adopted in 2003, PSGPC will observe the day on June 16,” he said, adding that he was sending a jatha on June 8.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) president Paramjit Singh Sarna did not find any weightage in the SGPC’s argument that the external affairs ministry did not give its approval. “It is unlikely that the ministry will not give its approval.

We are also sending the jatha according to PSGPC’s programme,” he said. Meanwhile, a senior intelligence officer told TOI that since relations between the two nations were not normal, there was a possibility of the government discouraging Indian nationals to visit Pakistan.


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