India declines visas to almost half of Pakistani pilgrims
239 would-be visitors to Ajmer Sharif have had their visa applications denied by New Delhi.
Only 249 pilgrims out of 488 were granted visas.
All of the pilgrims have been informed via short message service to travel to Lahore.
Of the 488 Pakistani pilgrims who applied for visas to enter India in order to travel to Ajmer Sharif for the annual Urs of the Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Gharib Nawaz, the Indian authorities denied 239 of them.
More than 200 Pakistani pilgrims were still unable to pay their respects to the Sufi saint, according to a representative for Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.
He also said that five personnel sent to look after the pilgrims while they were in India had been denied visas by the Indian government.
But he also revealed that only one of the six authorities was permitted to accompany the pilgrims.
He further said that all the pilgrims had been informed through SMS that they needed to be in Lahore on Tuesday in order to begin their journey to India.
Pakistani pilgrims seeking visas to India to attend last year’s Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti were similarly denied.
The religious leader issued a statement expressing his shock at the news that religious travellers would not be granted visas.
According to him, the Indian embassy had requested that the ministry ensure the necessary preparations were made before the pilgrims’ departure for Urs, and that they be carried out in accordance with the embassy’s own set of regulations.