Sikh group leaves for Pakistan to mark Baisakhi with relatives

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Amritsar, April 11 (ANI): A group of Sikhs on Sunday morning left for Pakistan to be with their relatives living in Pakistan ahead of the upcoming Baisakhi, the harvest festival of Punjabis.

The pilgrims will also visit some of the famous Sikh shrines in Pakistan including Gurdwaras Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib, Sacha Sahib and Dera Sahib before returning to India on April 20.

Led by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member, Sawinder Singh Dobalia, the Sikh group left from Attari railway Station.

"We know there are security concerns but Waheguru (God) is with us. He will keep us secure. We are very happy and there is no tension of security," said Dobalia, who heads the group of pilgrims.

Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC), the Sikhs' apex body responsible for Gurdwaras, however, has demanded easing of visa formalities to facilitate more people-to-people exchange across the border.

"Not allowing visas to the pilgrims is wrong. We come here with true faith and I feel this is religious interference. The government should not do this without any strong reasons. Some people have been denied visas on trivial account on their passport, like writing their birthplace as Lahore and not Pakistan. The visas which have been rejected on these petty issues deserves criticism," said Joginder Singh, Secretary of the SGPC.

The Sikh devotees are scheduled to begin Akhand Path (continuous recitation from the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib) at Panja Sahib Gurdwara on April 12 and will perform its concluding ceremony on April 14.

Baisakhi will be celebrated on April 13. By Sawinder Singh (ANI)

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