LAHORE - Another group of Indian Hindu pilgrims, comprising 139 people, on Sunday arrived in Lahore as part of Pakistan’s soft diplomacy to visit Shree Katas Raj Dham Temple in Chakwal district from December 9-15.

The new arrival came days after Islamabad issued 220 visas for the Shadani Darbar temple in Sukkur where a century-old Hindu festival is continuing. These two batches of visas for the Hindu pilgrims came within a fortnight of Islamabad granting 300 visas for Sikh pilgrims who went to Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan’s Punjab where 549th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak is being celebrated.

Spokesman for Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) said that the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines (1974) governs reciprocal visits by Indian and Pakistani pilgrims to designated shrines in Pakistan and India.

He said that Hindu pilgrims were on Pakistan visit for seven days and a ceremony would be held at Gurdwara Shari Dera Sahib at 4.00 pm on Monday (today). After staying in Lahore on Sunday, the pilgrims will leave for Katas Raj Chakwal on Monday.

A large number of Sikh and Hindu Yatrees from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals every year. Similarly, Zaireen (pilgrims) from Pakistan visit India to pay obeisance at the shrines of various Sufi saints in India.

In November, more than 3800 Sikh Yatrees from India were granted visas to visit Pakistan for the 549th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak. During their visit, the historic initiative of ‘Kartarpura Corridor’ was launched and the ground-breaking ceremony on the Pakistan side of the International border was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 28 in presence of the visiting Sikh Jatha from India. 

Subsequently, over 220 Indian pilgrims received visas to visit famous Hindu temple, Shadani Darbar, in Sukkur. These Yatrees are continuing their pilgrimage.

Katas Raj is one of the holiest places for the Hindu community in Pakistan. The temples form a complex surrounding a pond named Katas which is regarded as sacred by the devotees.

APP adds: Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi Sohail Mahmood said that the issuance of visas for yet another group of pilgrims from India was consistent with the government of Pakistan’s policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and was a reflection of Pakistan’s commitment to faithfully implement the 1974 Protocol. He added that Pakistan remained committed to providing all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims and strengthening people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

 

139 more Hindus arrive for Katas Raj yatra