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Badal urges PM to issue visas to Sikhs settled in Pakistan

Written by: Staff

Chandigarh, July 6 (UNI) The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to issue visas to all the Sikhs settled in Pakistan who want to visit historical Sikh shrines in Punjab and other parts of India.

A press release issued here said the SAD president, in a letter written to the Prime Minister in this regard, also demanded a visa centre in Amritsar for the convenience of Sikh pilgrims.

Mr Badal said, ''During my recent visit to Pakistan on the occasion of 400 years of martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the representatives of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee briefed me that Sikhs settled in Pakistan want to visit historical Sikh shrines in India especially in Punjab, but they are not getting visas for this purpose.'' ''Since, Indo-Pak relations have improved and people on both sides of the border want to have better contact with each other, there is no reason for this discrimination,'' added Mr Badal.

While informing the Prime Minister about the difficulties being faced by Sikh pilgrims visiting Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Mr Badal wrote, ''Though the Amritsar-Lahore bus service had been started, the number of persons who could avail this facility is very low. The major hurdle is that first the people go to Delhi for visas and then come to Amritsar for boarding the bus. So, to visit Lahore, which is only 45 KM from Amritsar, the people have to travel 900 km. This is very tiring as well as expensive.'' UNI DP RR ND1538

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