M A I N   N E W S

SAD plans religious procession to Pak
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
After the much-hyped procession carrying the golden palki to Nankana Sahib, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee also plan to take the “religious route” to Pakistan.

In a significant development in the election year in Punjab, the SAD and the SGPC plan to lead a religious procession (nagar kirtan) to Gurdwara Dera Sahib, on the banks of the Ravi in Lahore, to mark the 400 years of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. The tentative date of the procession will be close to June 16.

The procession is scheduled to start from the Golden Temple. It will go across the border to Dera Sahib, where a function will be held and conclude at Gurdwara Tarn Taran Sahib in India with the another function. It was at Tarn Taran that Guru Arjan Dev spent a lot of time.

The significance of the procession will not be lost on the Punjab political scene. The Akali thinktank will be projecting that Congress leaders were not the only ones who managed to provide access to Sikh shrines in Pakistan. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh has been claiming in the past few weeks that he fulfilled the wishes of Sikhs by providing free access to the shrines in Pakistan.

This move by the Akalis and the SGPC comes less two months after Capt Amarinder Singh and a former president the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Mr P.S. Sarna hogged the media limelight by taking the palki in procession to Nankana Sahib. The route was lined with people paying homage.

A delegation led by the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the SGPC chief Mr Avtar Singh, along with the leader of the SAD in Parliament, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, will meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on February 11. The agenda is to seek his help in getting clearance for the procession from the Pakistan Government and also the cooperation of that government in holding it. The SAD and the SGPC will invite the Prime Minister to attend one of the functions.

The SAD will be demanding that the maximum number of people should be allowed in the procession. Nearly 4,000 persons were given visas by the Pakistan Government for accompanying the palki to Nankana Sahib. 

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