Sputnik News – 130 Stranded Sikh pilgrims await Modi government’s go-ahead to enter Pakistan

Despite the near war-like situation due to the February escalation, India and Pakistan did not interrupt the Kartarpur Corridor religious infrastructure project, slated to be operationalised this year. The joint people-to-people exchange effort facilitates Indian Sikh pilgrims’ visits to the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak Dev.

Atari/Wagah border, Panjab, 14 June 2019. Around 130 Pakistan-bound Sikh pilgrims, including women, children, and elderly, with valid visas are stuck at the Attari border, as the Indian government is yet to allow them to cross over to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru.

The people have been stranded there since the early hours of the day and have so far been unable to proceed.

Footage from the location showed that most of the pilgrims are elderly citizens who arrived at the station from different parts of the Indian state of Punjab.

The stranded pilgrims expressed their anger, saying bilateral issues should not be allowed to come in the way of religion.

Local authorities in Punjab said that a special train from Pakistan will have to take the pilgrims beyond the Wagah border into the country. The train requires a nod from India to enter its territory, but it has not been allowed to enter Attari, located on Indian side of the border.

“The moment we will get the permission, we will allow the train to enter Attari”, M.L. Rai, the Attari Railway Station master, told reporters as pilgrims raised slogan against the government for the delay.

The pilgrims said that Pakistan had issued them a visa on 4 June and that their passports were handed over to Pakistan on 12 June. The visa is valid from 12 to 23 June.

Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan for religious festivals every year under the framework of the India-Pakistan Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines 1974.

Earlier, this past April, Pakistan issued visas to 2,200 Indian Sikh pilgrims to allow them to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations from 12 to 21 April at the peak of tensions in the wake of the Balakot air strike.

The two countries have also been working on the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor. The corridor is expected to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to worship at the Gurdwara (Sikh worship place) in Kartarpur Sahib ahead of the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, which will be celebrated in November this year.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201906141075872131-pilgrims-stranded-pakistan-border-modi/