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India Warns Sikh Pilgrims Against Accepting Pakistani Hospitality

August 10, 2023

LAHORE: The Kartarpur Corridor, which allows Sikhs to travel to Pakistan without a visa, has long been the target of Indian hostility. Most notably, an extended closure of the corridor on the Indian side under the guise of safety precautions related to the coronavirus effectively denied many Sikhs the freedom to practise their religion.

The Narendra Modi-led administration has now issued a warning for Sikh and Hindu pilgrims travelling to Pakistan, advising them to refrain from staying as guests of any Pakistani individual, in pure Bharatiya Janata Party style animosity. The warning also states that any future blacklisting of Indian pilgrims who accept Pakistani nationals’ hospitality. The warning comes as 495 Sikh pilgrims from India are now in Pakistan to observe Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s jubilee. Even outside of the current pilgrimage, Sikhs and Hindus who travel to Pakistan often opt to meet up with long-lost relatives and friends by travelling to their ancestral hometowns with the approval of Pakistani authorities.

Taking objection at the warning, Pakistan’s Sikh Prabandhak Gurdwara Committee has argued that because Pakistanis are hospitable people, treating visitors like family members is a matter of dignity and respect. The committee added that by employing such strategies, the Indian government hopes to sow the seeds of enmity.

Speaking to the Express Tribune, Sardar Amir Singh, the chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, said, “This is a sad step taken by the Indian government.”

According to Sardar Amir, the fascist Indian government is attempting to deny Sikhs the opportunity to visit the ancestral homelands. The Indian government had already voiced concerns about certain pilgrims making their way to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib via the Kartarpur Corridor to meet up with friends and conduct business. As a result, the advise has been planned for some time.

The Indian administration said that these pilgrims were abusing the Kartarpur corridor. Pakistan’s Foreign Office responded by vehemently rejecting Indian lies of holding commercial meetings along the Kartarpur Corridor. In addition, the Foreign Office claimed that the false propaganda was a component of an intentional Indian campaign to undermine Pakistan’s historic decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor to Sikh pilgrims from India and around the world, and that in reality the Indian government was attempting to deflect attention from the atrocities it was committing against its minorities.

Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, a member of the Punjab Assembly, stated in reference to the Indian government’s advise that Indian agencies have been attempting to deter Sikh pilgrims from travelling to Pakistan for a time now using a variety of ruses and justifications.

“In the past, they warned travellers that Pakistan is a dangerous place for their lives. They added that visiting Pakistan might make it more difficult for pilgrims to obtain visas for other nations. Fortunately, Sikhs have rejected such unsubstantiated lies,” the politician remarked.

On the other hand, when questioned about the advice, Paramjit Singh Sarvaya, the secretary of the Indian Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the largest representative body of Sikhs in India, told the Express Tribune that giving such instructions is standard procedure any time a group of Sikh pilgrims travels to Pakistan from India.

According to these guidelines from the Indian government, pilgrims should use caution when travelling to Pakistan and should only perform religious ceremonies. The Sikh community’s Pakistani representative, Sardar Amir, does not agree with Parmajit’s reasoning. “Sikhs who travel to this location for religious purposes frequently wish to browse the bazaars and catch up with relatives and friends they may not have seen in years. By doing such ridiculous actions, the Indian government cannot just eradicate the affection we have for one another, Sardar Amir told the Express Tribune.

Read More: Hundreds of Sikhs Make Historic Pilgrimage to Holy Site in Pakistan

Read More: Gurdwara a Sikh Place of Learning & Worship

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