Tribune news service
Amritsar, October 11
In what could be a direct and unprecedented fallout of uprising of terrorism in Pakistan, evident from the Taliban attack mounted on the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Pakistan authorities have allegedly cut-short the stay of the Sikh jatha from eight to four days.
Organised by the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the jatha, consisting of 72 SGPC sponsored pilgrims and several others, sponsored by different Sikh organisations, had left for Lahore via Samjhauta Express on October 8 to celebrate the birth anniversary of the fourth Sikh Guru Ram Dass.
All the Sikh pilgrims were armed with an eight-day visa
of Pakistan and were accordingly scheduled to return on October 15, after paying their obeisance at the Guru’s birth place Gurdwara Chuna Mandi, Lahore, and other places of immense religious importance such as, Nankana Sahib, Dera Sahib and Panja Sahib.
But, under the changed security circumstances in Pakistan, particularly after the Rawalpindi attack, the Sikh pilgrims have been forced to come back to Amritsar and would reach India tomorrow, three days prior to the scheduled stay.
Though, the SGPC and other quarters have been left perplexed about the exact reasons behind the decision, the sources pointed out that though the Pakistan government had made elaborate and unprecedented security cover for the first time, still the neighbouring country security agencies were of the view that there could be some sort of threat to the security of the jatha members.
The Pakistan government, according to a reported statement of former president of Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSPGC) Bishan Singh had provided the jatha with an elaborate security cover. He, however, was learnt to be of the view that the jatha had a five-day visa coming to an expiry on October 12.
All entry and exit points on the roads, from where the jatha cavalcade had to pass, were sealed at least 10 minutes before the movement of the vehicles carrying them. The cavalcade was escorted and piloted by eight vehicles apart from a number of commandoes deployed for their security.
The SGPC authorities, particularly, Avtaar Singh was concerned over the sudden development and was learnt to have been trying to establish contact with the jatha leader. “The jatha is coming back tomorrow and we are going to have a report on the issue from the jatha in charge Jaspal Singh. We can only react after getting a report in this regard,” said SGPC secretary Joginder Singh. The publicity in charge of the SGPC Bhai Ram Singh confirmed that the jatha had eight-day visa and was scheduled to return on October 15.
According to the sources, the SGPC authorities were also equally concerned about the safety and security of the Sikh shrines in view of the changed security scenario in the neighbouring country.
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