After 1,750-km odyssey, Sikh pilgrims reach Punjab

Chandigarh, April 26 (IANS) After a 1,750-km odyssey from the popular Sikh shrine in Nanded in Maharashtra, the first batch of nearly 300 Sikh pilgrims returned to their homes in Punjab on Sunday, officials said.

Nearly 3,500 pilgrims are still stranded at Takht Sri Hazur Sahib in Nanded due to the nationwide lockdown in wake of COVID-19 for whom the Punjab govertnemnt has arranged the buses.

All will return to Punjab in batches in the next three-four days, a state government official told IANS.

Before departing to their destinations in Punjab, doctors screened and tested them and advised 14-day strict home quarantine.

“I thank Gurusahib for the safe return of 300 pilgrims who were stranded in Sri Hazur Sahib. I pray all other pilgrims stranded in Nanded also come home soon,” Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted.

“My gratitude to Hazur Sahib Management Board which arranged and paid for the buses which brought the pilgrims back home today,” she added.

The Punjab government two days back dispatched 80 additional buses to bring back all stranded pilgrims.

In a tweet, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has requested his Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh counterparts Ashok Gehlot and Shivraj Chouhan, respectively, to facilitate the pilgrims to travel through their states.

As per the gurudwara management, over 4,000 pilgrims are stranded at Nanded and staying at ‘serais’ there.