450 Sikh pilgrims arrive in Pakistan to observe death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Lahore, Jun 21 (PTI) A group of 450 Sikh pilgrims on Tuesday arrived here in Pakistan from India to observe the 183rd death anniversary of the first ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which looks after the holy places of minorities in Pakistan, and Pakistan Gurdwara Sikh Prabandhak Committee officials received them at the Wagah Border.

Some 450 Indian Sikhs arrived here via Wagah Border from India to attend festivities in connection with the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore. The main event will be held at Dera Sahib on June 29, ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi told PTI.

He said that a Langer (lunch) was served to all visiting Sikh pilgrims at Wagah before their departure for Gurdwara Janamasthan Nankana Sahib, some 80 kms from Lahore.

During their stay, the pilgrims would also visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara.

Hashmi said that the Pakistani government had issued visas to 500 Indian Sikhs. However, 450 turned up, he said.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.

The issuance of visas to Indian Sikhs is covered under the framework of Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974.

Every year, a large number of Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals. The visas issued from New Delhi are in addition to the visas granted to Sikh pilgrims participating in these events from other countries.