Over 100 Pakistani Hindus arrive for Vaishno Devi pilgrimage

June 10th, 2009 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Jammu, June 10 (IANS) Over 100 Hindus from Pakistan, including women and children, arrived here Wednesday for pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.
The group of 111 Hindus arrived at Katra, the base camp of the Vaishno Devi shrine Wednesday and “are scheduled to go to the shrine Thursday morning,” an official of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said.

About two dozen Hindu men (from Pakistan) had performed this pilgrimage last year.

“This year we have come with our families,” said Namik Ram, 48, one of the pilgrims.

All the pilgrims are from Kandkot in Sindh province and are members of Shri Yog Mata Mandir there.

Namik Ram had come for pilgrimage last year too and said: “It was such a great experience that I have come again with my wife and children”.

Vinod Kumar, 30, a businessman from Kandkot said: “We are all excited to be here and to undertake this pilgrimage to the abode of Goddess Vaishno Devi.”

Commenting on the situation back home, Kumar said: “It is all normal and peaceful where we live, There is no violence or militancy in Sindh.”

Mahinder Kumar who has come with his wife and 10-year-old daughter said: “There is no fear of Taliban in Sindh and we are free to practise our religion.”

The pilgrims, however, declined to comment on the condition of Hindus and other non-muslims in Swat or other parts of North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan.

The shrine board has made special arrangements for the pilgrimage of the group. The group will start the 12-km trek Thursday morning and return by evening.

Mata Vaishno Devi is a cave shrine nestled in Trikuta hills at a height of 5,200 feet. Katra which is 45 km from Jammu, is the base camp for the pilgrimage.

These pilgrims are also scheduled to visit Haridwar later and some other places of pilgrimage before returning to Pakistan July 7.

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