Over 2,200 Sikh pilgrims from India arrived here on Friday to celebrate Baisakhi festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal city of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The pilgrims, who arrived at Wagah railway station by two special trains, were received by Secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Tariq Khan and Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Sardar Tara Singh.
The ETPB looks after the holy places of the minority community in the country.
Gurdwara Panja Sahib has a handprint of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, on a boulder of the shrine.
“A total 2,206 Sikh pilgrims have arrived here from India on two special trains. After immigration they left for Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hasan Abdal in Attock district, about 40 km from Rawalpindi,” ETPB spokesman Amir Hashmi told.
Baisakhi is celebrated to mark the beginning of a new harvest season. Under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974. Every year, a large number of Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals and occasions.
He said special security arrangements have been made for them and elite force and rangers are deployed along with them for their security.
Hasmi said the pilgrims will also visit other gurdwaras in Punjab province, including Gurdwara Janamasthan Nankana Sahib, during their 10-day stay here.
They will leave for India on April 21, he added.
Talking to reporters, leader of the Indian delegation Sardar Varmindar Singh Khalsa expressed the hope that the government will issue visas to a large number of Indian Sikh pilgrims on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
“We are anxiously awaiting that occasion and hope the government will issue maximum number of visas to the pilgrims,” he said, stressing that people-to-people contact between the two countries would help in improving ties between the neighbours.
India and Pakistan have announced opening the Kartarpur Corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.