A 240-odd pilgrim group of Pakistani Hindus has come to take a holy dip in the Ganga besides visiting several other shrines.
The pilgrim entourage was organised by the Shadadi Sewa Mandal, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, which comprised Pakistani Hindus led by Sevadar Bhai Jayram Das and 300 Indian pilgrims from Chhattisgarh led by Sant Yudhistarlal.
From Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan, the Hindu delegation performed rituals during their visit. They have a month-long visa starting from March 5 and will be visiting religious places across India during this period.
Spiritually satisfied with their Indian visit, the pilgrims from across the border were quite impressed by the warmth and hospitality shown to them by people at all places they visited in India.
But a singular problem nagged them at all places. Many dharamshalas and rest houses did not accommodate them as they were from Pakistan, but some after police verification did welcome them.
Govind Ram Makhija, chief representative of the group, said that a Pakistani Hindu is as religiously committed as an Indian Hindu and asked how could a religious Hindu betray his brothers.
“Relations only foster with trust and that is true for both nations. Just being a citizen of Pakistan or India shouldn’t make one a traitor. Both governments should take steps to ensure that this discrimination doesn’t happen again,” said a sad Govind.
A dharamshala manager, on condition of anonymity, said that they didn’t have any bias towards the delegation, but even normally, police verification was essential for Pakistani or American nationals. “Otherwise, we could be roughed up later,” he said.
“To make sure we don’t get entangled in police investigation, specially during Maha Kumbh, we initially didn’t allow them admittance, but after getting clarification from the administration, we provided them with extra rooms so that they didn’t have further problems,” said the manager.
Darshan Nihal of the organising Shadadi Mandal said the Pakistani Hindu delegation had come to take a holy dip at the Maha Kumbh and were elated on being in the Kumbh city.
Apart from visiting religious places, the delegation had also brought ashes of 25 deceased relatives to immerse in the Ganga. This aspect again highlights the religious significance of the Ganga in Hinduism and the following of this custom by Pakistani Hindus proved their devotion towards their religion.
They also said that contrary to the common perception, the situation of Hindus in Pakistan was improving and Hindus were getting their due in society. In Pakistani Parliament, Hindus had 12-odd parliamentary representatives and recently, they had boycotted the proceedings of Parliament when a Pakistani judge questioned the integrity of Pakistani Hindus towards Pakistan.
Also in defence and government services, Hindus were being given representation. There were several temples in Pakistan and many were being built with no one raising any objections.
Jay Prakash Dolimal, a visitor, said the Haridwar-Rishikesh visit gave them solace and such trips did bring the two nations closer.