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SGPC contests PM's 'easy access' claim to gurdwaras in Pak

Written by: Staff
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Amritsar, Mar 24 (UNI) The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) today contested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's claim that Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus will provide ''khule darshan didar'' (easy access) to the Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

''The 'ardas' (pray) of the Sikhs for 'khule darshan didar' has not yet been fulfilled as you cannot term this as easy access,'' SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar said, talking to mediapersons after the PM had flagged off the bus to Nankana Sahib.

Jathedar Avtar Singh said that as long as ''visa hurdles'' remain the access to Nankana Sahib and other Sikh shrines in Pakistan cannot be termed as easy. ''Sikhs will have to travel all the way to New Delhi for getting visas,'' he said, reiterating his demand that a visa centre should be opened here.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too had aired the views of the SGPC in his speech at the public rally just before the flagging off ceremony. The PM had promised to look into this aspect.

The SGPC chief said that opening of a visa centre in the Holy City would immensely benefit the residents of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, ''parts of Haryana and Rajasthan.'' A visa centre here will make the pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Pakistan a lot easier,''he noted.

The Prime Minister, in his speech before the flagging off ceremony, had mentioned that ever since the Partition, Sikhs in India and abroad had been praying for ''khule darshan didar'' of the shrines across the border. This bus will link the holy city of the Harmandir Sahib with the birthplace of Guru Nanak,'' Dr Singh said in his speech, made in Punjabi.

The SGPC chief did not attend the flagging off ceremony as he had claimed that it was a political show of the Congress.

UNI XC HS VD RK1738

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