India has issued visas to only 249 Pakistani pilgrims to visit Ajmer Sharif instead of 488 applicants who intended to visit the shrine of revered Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti in Rajasthan.
According to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, over 200 Pakistani pilgrims had been deprived of paying homage to the Sufi saint, Radio Pakistan reported on Sunday.
He said that the Indian authorities have also declined visas to six officials deputed to take care of the pilgrims during their stay in India. He, however, said that only one of the six officials was granted permission to go with the Zaireen (pilgrims).
The spokesperson said all the Zaireen have been conveyed through SMS to reach Lahore from where they will embark on their journey to India on Tuesday.
Even when it could not use the coronavirus as an excuse anymore, India spent much of last year denying Muslim tourists from Pakistan the right to perform their religious rituals in its territory.
The Muslim population in Pakistan is no stranger to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government violating the Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, signed by India and Pakistan in September of 1974.
According to the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, India is bound to issue visas to Pakistani Muslim pilgrims every year to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Sani, Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Alauddin Ali Ahmad Sabir, Urs of Hazrat Hafiz Abdullah Shah, Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya, Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, and the Urs of Hazrat Amir Khusro.
Mian Fayyaz, a leader of a group of devotees of Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, told the media that in February last year the Indian government denied their visas just two days before the Urs. “We had waited all year to be able to go. All our planning had been completed but, all of it went to waste when India abruptly denied us visas,” Fayyaz lamented.