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Interior Ministry Denies SGPC Permission to Send ‘Jatha’ to Pakistan | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Home Office has denied the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) permission to send a “jatha” or group of 600 members to Pakistan to attend the 100th anniversary of “Saka Nankana Sahib”. The ministry cited the security threat and ongoing risk from Covid-19 as reasons for the denial.
SGPC had approached the Home Office for mandatory clearance in view of the ongoing suspension of cross-border traffic between India and Pakistan due to the pandemic. The ‘jatha’ was supposed to travel to Pakistan between February 18 and 25, during which time its 600 members would visit five gurudwaras across the border.
In denying permission to the SGPC proposal, the Home Office in a letter written to the SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur Begowal on Wednesday, said: “We understand a considerable threat to the security of a large number of our citizens during this visit”.
The ministry added that traffic on the Indo-Pakistan international border has remained suspended since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “While the pandemic continues to persist, it is pertinent to note that Pakistan has so far registered more than half a million cases with more than 10,000 deaths, due to Covid. Considering the capacity of the health infrastructure in Pakistan, it is not advisable for a large group of our citizens to visit Pakistan for a week during a pandemic, “stated in the marked letter to the additional chief secretary of Punjab (home) and DGP.
“In view of the factors mentioned above, the MHA has not granted permission to the jatha to cross into Pakistan, which was mandatory, in view of the ongoing suspension of cross-border traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the ministry said.

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