Sikh Pilgrims to Pak's Panja Sahib Gurdwara Diverted to Lahore as Protests Erupt After Cleric's Arrest

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Pakistan has been rocked by protests in several cities over the arrest of 26-year-old Saad Hussain Rizvi, the chief of Tehreek-e-Labbaik from Lahore. The arrest and the protests led to the Pakistan security agencies changing the route plan of the 800 Indian pilgrims who went to Pakistan to pay obeisance at places of Sikh religious importance, mainly at the Panja Sahib Gurdwara at Hasan Abdal Attock on the occasion of Baisakhi and the ‘Sthapana Diwas’ of Sikhism on Tuesday.

The Sikh pilgrims who reached through the Wagah Attari border yesterday were first stopped inside Pakistan territory at Attari and from there they were taken to Dera Sahib Gurdwara in Lahore. The pilgrims are still at the Gurdwara and had not moved forward till filing of this report.

The entire city of Lahore has erupted in protests after the arrest of Saad from Eastern Lahore, leading to the Pakistan authorities taking such steps.

Saad was arrested after he demanded that the Ambassador of France expelled for wrong depiction of Prophet Mohammed.

The route to Panja Sahib gurdwara in Hasan Abdal at Attock in Pakistan, which is 397 km away from Lahore, is a good four and half hour drive from Lahore. The Sikh Jatha members were first stopped at the border when they crossed over to Pakistan last night and from there they were taken to Dera Sahib gurdwara in Lahore.

Indian authorities are in touch with Pakistan foreign ministry and ETPB. Sources said Pakistan authorities have been told to ensure safety of Indian pilgrims.

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