Maulana Mohammad Usman Rahmani, the Shahi Imam of Punjab's Ludhiana, took exception to the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi for keeping Kerala Hajj pilgrim Shihab Chittur in the lurch regarding his visa status, adding that the man in question had met him while passing through the state and informed him of his predicament.
Reportedly, Shihab, a native of Kanjipura Chittur, in on a foot journey from Malappuram to Mecca for Hajj. Shihab’s plan is to reach Mecca overland will require him to cross six countries, including Pakistan.
At a press conference held in Ludhiana, Shahi Imam accused the Pakistani embassy in Delhi of cheating the man, who was on the pilgramage on foot, by means of a last-minute change in its stand -- once the pilgrim reached Attari border, Pakistan embassy refused to extend visa, citing 'security reasons.'
It should be noted that authorities in both India and Pakistan routinely cite 'security reasons' as justification for denying visas to the citizens of the other country, regardless of whether they are religious pilgrims or not.
“First the Pakistani embassy assured Shihab Chittur to continue the journey and told him he would reach the Indo-Pak border, he would be given a visa. The Embassy gave the logic that the visa would expire if given in advance. So the visa would be issued as soon as Shihab Chittur would arrive at the border,” the Shahi Imam said.
Pointing out that this would be the first time in 75 years that an Indian pilgrim would be undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage on foot, having already covered nearly 3,000 kilometres on foot from Kerala to Punjab, the Shahi Imam lamented the fact that an Islamic country like Pakistan would deny a Muslim a visa for undertaking a Hajj pilgrimage.
“The matter has been taken up with PM Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention so that Shihab could continue his journey via China and Kazakhstan,” referring to the alternate land route via Central Asia that could be taken by Shihab to bypass Pakistan.
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