Jain group seeks Centre’s nod to travel to Pakistan

Amid India-Pakistan land border closure post-COVID, a group of 22 members of the Jain faith have requested the Union Home Ministry to allow them to go to Pakistan to visit a shrine that has been restored after decades. The group is being led by Jalandhar-based activist Sunil Jain, who heads the World Jain-Muslim Interfaith Harmony Council and the members include Jains from Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Sunil Jain says the group received visas to travel to Lahore on 21 February 2022. But, they will expire on 7 March 2022, unless the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department gives them the clearance to travel via the Atari-Wagah border in Punjab.  “When we finally received the visas from Pakistan, we were so happy we could visit our sacred shrines, which are just a few dozen kilometres away across the border, only to find that we are being stopped by our side,” Mr. Sunil added.

As per their itinerary, they hope to see a temple in Gujranwala, which was until recently being used as the office of Deputy Superintendent of Police, and another shrine in Lahore that was attacked and damaged in the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. Both shrines are among a number of temples being restored by the Imran Khan government after the Pakistan Supreme Court ordered that they be reconstructed and handed over to the minorities welfare board.

The Home Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment on whether the case would be resolved before their visas ran out.

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