Pakistan to host Baisakhi Mela despite tensions with India

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–Authorities told to expedite issuance of visas to 3,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims; schedule approved

LAHORE: Despite ongoing tensions with India after Pulwama incident, Pakistan has approved the schedule of “Baisakhi Mela” apart from ordering the issuance of visas to 3,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims.

Pakistan Today has learnt that Prime Minister Imran Khan has given the directions to Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) that despite the political and border tensions between Pakistan and India, the arrangements for Baisakhi Mela should be up to the mark and pilgrims be welcomed with hospitality.

The Board has started the groundwork for free food distribution, accommodation, medical and travel facilities for the Sikh pilgrims, sources disclosed.

Talking to Pakistan Today, ETPB Secretary Tariq Wazir Khan said, “Baisakhi Mela is a religious festival in Sikhism. To participate in the festival, the Indian Sikh pilgrims will reach Pakistan on April 12 through special trains on Wagah railways stations where the high-ups of ETPB and government will welcome them.”

“They will be driven to Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hassan Abdal during the same day. The main ceremony of Bhog Akhand Paath (Akhand Path is the common practice of continuous recitation without any break of sacred religious texts in Sikhism) will be held in Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14 and the Sikh pilgrims who will come from all around the world will also celebrate the ‘Khalsa Janam Din’ here,” he added.

Wazir further said that the Sikh pilgrims will leave for Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib, on April 15. “They will also visit the Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Farooqabad, on April 17,” he said. “On April 18, they will visit the Gurdwara Dehra Sahib Sri Guru Arjan Dev, Lahore, and on April 19, the pilgrims will visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur and Gurdwara Rori Sahib, Aimenabad.”

According to the schedule, the Indian pilgrims will visit Lahore on April 20, and return to India on 21 April.