Lahore: Sikh elders have protested a decision by Pakistani authorities to bar the community from organising the `Palki` procession at Gurdwara Janamsthan in Nankana Sahib to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Authorities said their decision to bar the procession,
which goes from Gurdwara Janamsthan to seven other gurdwaras
in Guru Nanak`s birthplace, was based on security concerns.
Sikhs were not allowed to organise the procession last
However, Pakistan Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee
president Sardar Bishon Singh said that if Muslims are freely
allowed to observe their rituals, there should be no
restrictions on Sikh festivals in the name of security.
"People from the Barelvi school of thought have taken
out religious processions on the occasion of the birthday of
Prophet Mohammed with security and the same facility could be
extended to Sikhs," Singh argued.
Over 15,000 Sikhs and Hindus from Pakistan and abroad
attended the main festival held yesterday in Nankana Sahib,
located 80 km from Lahore, to mark the birth anniversary of
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
Many pilgrims expressed regret over the government`s
decision not to allow the `Palki` procession, during which the
Guru Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs, is placed on a
vehicle and taken to various gurdwaras linked to Guru Nanak.
Officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, which
is responsible for the upkeep of shrines of minority
communities of Pakistan, said the security of Sikh pilgrims is
more important than anything else.
"We cannot compromise on their security," ETPB
spokesman Amir Hashmi told PTI.
"Some local Muslim processions are allowed, but in
this case foreigners are involved and we cannot take any
risk," he said.
Due to the deteriorating law and order situation in
the country, paramilitary personnel from the Pakistan Rangers
have been engaged to provide security to visiting Sikhs for
the past few years.