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Spl package sought for Nankana Sahib pilgrims

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  • B.S.Goraya
    Spl package sought for Nankana Sahib pilgrims Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service New Delhi, July 4 The government has been urged to announce a special package
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2009
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      Spl package sought for Nankana Sahib pilgrims
      Ashok Tuteja
      Tribune News Service

      New Delhi, July 4
      The government has been urged to announce a special package for Sikh pilgrims visiting the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

      Raising the issue through a special mention in the Rajya Sabha, Independent member Tarlochan Singh was of the view that such a package should first be extended to the pilgrims belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families.

      The former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities said the government was providing financial packages to Muslim pilgrims going for Haj to Saudi Aarbia. It had also constituted Haj board, a special section in the External Affairs Ministry, for the purpose.

      The government could create a section on similar lines in the ministry for the pilgrims to Nankana Sahib. The section could handle arrangements like issuing passports, granting visas and transporting pilgrims to Pakistan at the cost of the state, the member suggested.

      He said as the pilgrims would get free board and lodging facilities at Sikh shrines in Pakistan, the scheme would not cost much to the exchequer. Their visit to Pakistan could include visits to Lahore, Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib and Nankana Sahib.

      Saying that the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev would fall in November, Tarlochan Singh wanted the government to accept the proposal immediately so that Sikh pilgrims could benefit from it from this year itself.

      In a written question, he also sought to know from the government the number of Sikhs living as refugees in camps at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Pakistan.

      In her reply, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur quoted media reports to inform Tarlochan Singh that there were about 2,000 Sikh refugees at Gurdwara Panja Sahib. Some reports also indicate the presence of refugees at Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh in Peshawar, but their number was not known.

      Kaur also informed the member that India had taken up the issue of welfare of these refugees with the Pakistan Government.



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