New Delhi: After a gap of two years, a batch of over 200 Pakistani pilgrims visited the historic dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Sunday to mark the 808th Urs (death anniversary) of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.
India had not granted visas to pilgrims in 2018 and 2019 due to tensions between the two countries.
The devotees are expected to offer chadars (sacred clothes) at the dargah on behalf of the Pakistani government. Accompanied by Pakistan High Commission officials, the pilgrims reached Ajmer by Delhi-Udaipur Chetak Express train. Strict security arrangements were reportedly made at the railway station.
The pilgrims are staying at the Government Central Girls’ Senior Secondary School at Naya Bazaar in Ajmer.
Urs began on 17 February and will continue until 6 March. The pilgrims from Pakistan are expected to stay in the country until 7 March.
Curbs imposed on pilgrims
Soon after the arrival of the pilgrims, the Ajmer district administration imposed certain curbs on them, citing visa rules.
“It is clear in the visa rules that the delegation will move in a group during their visit. They will be taken to the dargah in a group during the hours decided in consultation with members of the delegation. It will help us in providing security to them,” said Ajmer SP Kunwar Rastradeep.
This has reportedly been the first time that pilgrims from Pakistan have been asked to visit the dargah for a specific duration instead of being allowed to go any time of the day.
The pilgrims are also not allowed to visit Hujra (priest seat) or the resident of Khadim (priest). The restrictions imposed have upset the pilgrims who claimed that they won’t get enough time to offer prayers five times a day.
On Sunday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot offered chadar at the dargah on behalf of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress leaders presented a velvet chadar and flowers. A message from Gandhi was also read out at the Buland Darwaja.