Friday, April 06, 2012 - Lahore: Some 3,000 Sikh pilgrims are expected to arrive in Pakistan from India and other parts of the world to participate in the 10-day annual Baisakhi festival starting from April 10 and authorities have completed arrangements to host them.
"Though special arrangements have been made lodging the Sikh pilgrims in Lahore at Ayesha Saddiqua Degree College and two schools, we may need to make further arrangements if the number of pilgrims increases," said Amir Hashmi, spokesman for the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which is responsible for maintaining the shrines and properties of minority communities.
Hashmi said the police and other departments had been engaged to put in place foolproof security and medical, electricity, water, food and cleanliness measures for the Sikh yatris.
"We have done this so that they can remember the great hospitality of Pakistani institutions and the people even after they return to their native countries," he told reporters.
Besides police, the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers will provide security to the visiting Sikhs.
The Sikh yatris will start assembling at Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hassanabdal from April 10 to celebrate the Baisakhi festival.
The Indian pilgrims will enter Pakistan via the Wagah land border crossing.
They will travel to Hassanabdal on special trains during April 11-13.
They will perform their final rituals on April 14 and then visit Nankana Sahab and other places before returning to Lahore.
The ETPB has completed the renovation and decoration of several gurdwaras ahead of the festival. Extra rooms have been built at some gurdwaras to accommodate the yatris.
Thousands of Sikhs from across Pakistan will also join the festivities.