File image of a Gurudwara in Pakistan. Photograph:( WION )
Amidst chants of 'Jo Bole So Nihal', the batch left for 'darshan' of Gurudwara Shri Panja Sahib, Shri Nankana Sahib, and Shri Kartarpur Sahib among other Gurudwaras in Lahore
To commemorate the 180th Death Anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a batch of 224 Sikh devotees from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) left for Pakistan in a special train from Attari Railway Station on Thursday morning.
Amidst chants of 'Jo Bole So Nihal', the batch left for 'darshan' of Gurudwara Shri Panja Sahib, Shri Nankana Sahib, and Shri Kartarpur Sahib among other Gurudwaras in Lahore.
They will return to India on July 6.SGPC had sent 282 applications for visas this year of which only 224 visas were granted, while 58 were denied on Wednesday.
"We are going for the `darshan` on the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. We pray for our visa clearances every year because not everybody who applies gets clearance. We are not smugglers, we are devotees, we are going there for 'darshan'," said one of the devotees.
"We urge our government as well as their government to end visa systems for people who travel for religious purposes. Our government should ask Pakistan government the reason for denial of visas," said another devotee whose relatives did not get a visa to travel to Pakistan.
Within the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, thousands of pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals and occasions every year.