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April 14, 2012

Sikh pilgrims to Pak call for liberal visas on Baisakhi

Islamabad:At least 8,000 Sikhs gathered at the Punja Sahib Gurdwara, which is located about 48 kilometres away from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to celebrate Baisakhi. Thousands of pilgrims prayed for a change in visa policy for Sikhs so that they are able to visit the shrine any time of the year. “Both governments should devise a verification system so that Sikhs can cross the border for religious rituals. Even a permit would be fine,” The Express Tribune quoted a pilgrim, Rajpal Singh, as saying. The Punjab government had deployed around 3000 Pakistan Rangers to maintain tight security in and around the premises. Approximately, 2,300 Indian Sikhs who visited the shrine, were accommodated in more than 400 rooms in the gurdwara. A large number of people had set up their stalls at the back of the gurdwara on the occasion. A Sindh-based vendor, Inder Kaur said merchants make approximately 25,000 rupees in three days. Baisakhi is an annual event marking the beginning of the new solar year and the formation of Khalsa (the pure one). Punja Sahib is one of the three holiest shrines for Sikhs because of the presence of a rock believed to have the hand- print of its founder Guru Nanak imprinted on it.

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