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NWFP Sikhs sore over denial of visas to India
Posted by Balvinder Singh S Bal Send Email to Author on Friday, 8/29/2003 4:38 AM MDT

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NWFP Sikhs sore over denial of visas to India


TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ MONDAY, JULY 21, 2003 12:31:13 AM ]

AMRITSAR: Preserving one’s faith and following it passionately in an alien land is not easy at the best of times. But what happens when the believers’ sense of connection with their homeland and faith is not reciprocated in reality?

The 600-odd families of baptised Sikhs living in border areas of Pakistan with Afghanistan were bitter and hurt when they were not even being considered true Sikhs and were being denied visas to India for paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and five Takhts.

Their sense of heart is palpable as they have been living in the heart of the Muslim society of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan for centuries and never miss a chance to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan whenever an Indian Sikh jatha arrives there, a member of the jatha who recently visited NWFP told Times News Network on Saturday. The jatha had gone to Pakistan to observe the 164th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Sikhs of NWFP regularly conduct classes for teaching Gurmukhi to their children besides morning and evening recital of Gurbani at their homes.

The NWFP Sikhs have reasons to feel emotional over the issue. Their feeling for faith is so strong that some of them even consider themselves ‘blessed’ to have met those Sikhs who live in India and have easy access to the Sikh religious institutions there.

Sources said that NWFP Sikhs were also resentful of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) jatha leaders to Pakistan who often promised to take up the visa issue with the Indian government but ‘‘never keep their word’’.

In response, Dilmegh Singh, additional secretary of SGPC, who had accompanied a Sikh jatha to Pakistan during Baisakhi in April, said that he had narrated the problems of the NWFP Sikhs to the Indian high commission officials who had met them in Pakistan.

Sources told TNN that during the recent visit of a Sikh jatha to Pakistan in June, the NWFP Sikhs, under the banner of Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh NWFP Peshawar, Pakistan, had given a letter to the Sikh jatha leader urging the SGPC president to take up the visa issue with the government.

The letter is written by Partap Singh, senior nayab sadar, NWFP. The letter says that the NWFP Sikhs were primarily traders and in medical profession and were not dabbling in any political activities and it was their heartfelt wish to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and five takhts.

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