India says cancellation of Visa of 500 Pakistani pilgrims was to ensure their safety

New Delhi, May 3: India has said that the cancellation of Visa of 500 Pakistani pilgrims has been done as a measure of precaution to ensure their safety and welfare.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has said that the visit of such a large group of pilgrims from Pakistan would have required much more elaborate arrangements than what is usually done for such events.

“All government agencies including our railway authorities had made full arrangement to transport over 500 pilgrims from Pakistan, from the Attari railway station, to Ajmer and back,” he added.

Pakistan reportedly lodged strong protest with India over its refusal to grant visas to 500 Pakistani pilgrims desiring to visit Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti’s shrine in Ajmer on the occasion of Urs.

According to The Dawn, spokesperson of the Foreign office, Tasneem Aslam said in a statement that the Indian deputy high commissioner was summoned to the foreign office today, and a protest was lodged.

She said that the visits to religious shrines in Pakistan and India are governed under the bilateral protocol on visits to the religious shrines, 1974.

Expressing disappointment over the denial of visas by the Indian government, the spokesperson said that this is the fourth time that visas have been denied to Pakistani pilgrims in the last one year.

Aslam added that while the decision was not against the bilateral agreement, it however ran contrary to the efforts towards normalising ties between the two countries and the spirit of people-to-people contacts. (ANI)