‘Conditional’ Visa Denied Sikh Jatha Travel Via Samjhauta Express

Amritsar: As per the media reports a group of 80 Sikhs expecting to visit Pakistan to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev had to return disappointed as they were not allowed to board the Samjhauta Express at the Attari railway station on Thursday.

Pak-bound Sikh pilgrims stranded at the Attari railway station in Amritsar on Thursday. Tribune Photo.

Media sources indicates that  68 pilgrims had obtained their visas through Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society while the remaining 12 were sponsored by the SAD (Delhi). They alleged that despite possessing ‘valid’ documents, they were not allowed to proceed due to lack of communication between the railway authorities and the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“We were told that the visa documents were valid for a ‘special train’, not for the Samjhauta Express. Hence, it stood invalid. For a sheer official snag, pilgrims had to suffer disappointment,” society president Harpal Singh Bhullar reportedly said.

It is learnt that another group of 14 pilgrims, sponsored by Haryana-based Sukhmani Sahib Society, crossed over to Pakistan taking the Attari-Wagah road route.

Whilst talking to The Tribune (TT) Attari Railway Station Superintendent AK Gupta said they did not allow the pilgrims board the Samjhauta Express as they were not satisfied with the documents they possessed. “There were clear-cut directions that unless we get the green signal from the MEA about any jatha, we cannot allow them to cross over to Pakistan. The pilgrims’ visa documents mentioned travel by special pilgrimage train, and not Samjhauta Express,” he added.

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