Monday, November 19, 2007

Tight security in Pakistan for Indian Sikh jatha

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has made unprecedented security arrangements for Sikh devotees visiting Pakistan on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 24. According to sources, the heightened security is in the wake of emergency declared in Pakistan and apprehensions that terrorists from North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan may infiltrate Lahore during the visit of devotees from around the world.

Various security agencies like security branch, crime investigation agency and ISI are expected to monitor movements of the Sikh jatha. "We believe they will permanently station their spies in gurdwaras as long as the Sikh jatha stays in Pakistan," says sources. Those Sikh who have been illegally staying in Pakistan’s gurdwaras will also be watched and may be asked to leave the country, say sources.
Meanwhile, PSGPC will also bring an inter-faith delegation to India to strengthen religious bonds between the two nations. "Pakistan government has made unprecedented security arrangements for the arrival of some 20,000 Sikhs from around the world, including 3,000 from NWFP and 7,000 from Sindh," informs Bishan Singh, president PSGPC on the phone from Lahore on Saturday.
Informing that he will lead the inter-faith delegation to India in December to promote peace, Singh adds, "The delegation will include religious representatives of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians from Pakistan and they will hold meetings with leaders of different faiths in India."
Stating that adequate security arrangements were in place, Sadiq Khurram, the newly-appointed organizing secretary of Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board, a parent body of PSGPC, adds, "We expect all religious festivities to pass off peacefully."
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar says that the Sikh jatha, led by former SGPC president Kabal Singh Theenda, will leave for Lahore on a special Sikh pilgrim train from Attari international railway station on November 21. The jatha was earlier scheduled to leave on November 19, but following a change in programme by PSGPC, it was postponed by two days.