Sunday, April 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Defying govt, Mann’s jatha to visit Pak
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Even as the high-powered committee presided over by the Prime Minister has decided not to give permission to Sikh devotees to visit Pakistan, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and Akali Dal President, today announced that a jatha of his party would cross over to Pakistan on April 11 by breaking a “blockade” of the Central Government.

Talking to TNS on telephone, Mr Mann said Sikhs should be allowed to visit religious places without any hassle. He said if high security could be provided to pilgrims to visit Amarnath cave, minorities should not be denied permission to visit their holy places.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD President, described the denial of permission as most unfortunate. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, had failed to get the genuine demand of the Sikhs to visit Pakistan from the NDA government.

He claimed that it was wrong to say that there was danger to the life and property of the pilgrims due to heightened tension in the region. He said due to the Army build-up on both sides, the pilgrimage could have been undertaken without any security problem.

Mr Tohra ruled out the possibility of forging unity with the SAD. When his attention was drawn to the statement of his confident, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta that all Akali and Panthic factions should evolve a consensus on common issues pertaining to the Sikh Panth, he said his faction could not share stage with the SAD which was responsible for the denigration of the Sikh tradition. He said his party could forge unity with any like-minded Panthic organisation except the SAD.

Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, a former President of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, sought the resignation of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as SGPC President. He said Mr Badungar had been misguiding the Sikh devotees that the SGPC would get permission from the Central Government for the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, the SAD will discuss various issues pertaining to the Sikhs at a joint meeting of the working committee, political affairs committee, SGPC members, MPs and MLAs on April 10.

Our Ferozepore Correspondent adds: The Gujarat violence has cast a shadow over the annual pilgrimage of the Sikhs to Pakistan.

The co-chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) said in a statement the PSGPC was ready to take the responsibility for the security of the devotees. He said they would welcome the jathas with open arms and would wait for them. All arrangements had been made, he added.

The International Bhai Mardana Society has already received passports of around 500 devotees who wish to go to Pakistan.Back

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