India in touch with Pakistan: EAM on safety of Indian Sikh pilgrims

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New Delhi/Lahore, Apr 14 (PTI) India is in touch with authorities in Pakistan regarding safety of over 800 Indian pilgrims whose visit to the neighbouring country has been affected by violent protests in several cities, including Lahore.

'Closely tracking developments. In touch with Pakistani authorities and Sikh Jatha. Will do utmost to ensure security and safe return of pilgrims,' External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.

The minister's response came after President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee Manjinder Singh Sirsa, in a tweet, requested Jaishankar to look into the matter of stranded Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan.

Over 800 Indian Sikhs travelled to Pakistan to attend the Baisakhi festival. The Indian pilgrims had reached Lahore via Wagah border on Monday to attend the festival.

On Tuesday afternoon, the visiting Indian Sikhs left for Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassanabdal in 25 buses which were escorted by the police and the Pakistani Rangers.

“Owing to the TLP protest that blocked roads, the Sikh yatrees reached Hassanabdal at 4 am on Wednesday after over 14 hours of journey which otherwise is covered in three hours,” an official of the Punjab government told PTI in Lahore. Protests are taking place in several part of Pakistan by supporters of Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) demanding the expulsion of the French envoy over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.

The Indian pilgrims attended the main event on Wednesday in which several local Sikhs also participated.

The visiting pilgrims are scheduled to visit other holy places in the Punjab province of Pakistan during their 10-day stay in the country. PTI MPB MZ PYK PYK