LAHORE: 3,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims have arrived in Pakistan to celebrate the Baisakhi festival.
The pilgrims were greeted warmly at the Wagah border.
The pilgrims were welcomed by Rana Shahid Saleem, Additional Secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), and Sardar Amir Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Parbandhak Committee.
Sardar Amarjit Singh, the group leader of Sikh pilgrims, spoke on the occasion, saying that they have come with a message of peace and love.
Pakistan’s land is very sacred to Sikhs all over the world, he added.
Sikh guests from all over the world, including India, will be provided with the best facilities, according to Saleem. He expressed regret that India did not permit the operation of a special train for pilgrims this year.
Sikh pilgrims will also visit Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and other holy sites, according to Sardar Amarjit Singh.
The main Baisakhi celebration will take place on April 14 at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal. Pakistan has issued visas to 2,956 pilgrims for the period April 9 to April 18.
Many of the Sikh pilgrims arriving from India are visiting Pakistan for the first time, while others have returned to visit their ancestral homes.
Madhan Singh of Jalandhar and Surjeet Kaur of Delhi want to visit their hometown of Mansehra.
Surjit told that she was one and a half years old when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.
Their father was killed during the partition riots, but they want to kiss and bow once more to the land where she was born.
Madhan Singh revealed that their father’s name was Moti Singh and that their grandfather had three brothers, one of whom stayed in Pakistan and converted to Islam.
His Muslim relatives still live in Kashmiri Bazar in Mansehra. He communicates with his Muslim relatives over the phone but has never met them.
The two siblings petitioned the authorities to allow them to visit their ancestral home and meet relatives for a few hours.