Guru Arjun Dev Ji (1563-1606): Sikhs arrive to mark Guru’s martyrdom http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_9-6-2004_pg7_18 LAHORE: Almost a thousand Sikhs arrived in the city through the Wagah border crossing and the Samjhota Express on Tuesday to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev Ji. Sardar Sham Singh, the Shromani Gurdawara Perbundhak Committee (SGPC) Pakistan chairman, and officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board welcomed around 567 men and 345 women and children. Hundreds of Sikhs are also expected from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Canada and France. Sikhs from all over Pakistan will also participate in the event. Talking to Daily Times at Wagah, Sikhs from both sides of the border expressed optimism that the appointment of Manmohan Singh as Indian prime minister would be beneficial to relations between the two Punjabs. “I hope the governments of India and Pakistan will now try to solve the problems of Punjabi people because Punjabis have relatives and friends on both sides,” said one Sikh pilgrim. Some Sikh leaders said they had come to visit holy sites and not for politics. They demanded both governments ease visa conditions because that would improve people-to-people contact and allow them to visit their temples in Pakistan more often. Sardar Ranjeet Singh said all Sikhs wished to visit the holy sites in Pakistan but most of them could not because of the lengthy and complicated visa process. He said both governments should end visa restrictions for people who wanted to visit holy sites on either side of the border. Narinder Kaur praised the Evacuee Trust property Board and the SGPC for facilitating the visiting Sikhs and taking care of their gurdawaras, or temples. Sardar Jasvinder Singh said the Kashmir issue was the major hurdle to smooth relations between India and Pakistan and it should be resolved for peace in the region. The Sikhs left for Gurdawara Janam Asthan (the birthplace of Guru Arjun Dev Ji in Nankana Sahib) soon after their arrival at Wagah. They will stay at Nankana Sahib from June 8 to 10 and will visit Sacha Sauda Sahib in Farooqabad. The pilgrims will leave for Gurdawara Punja Sahib in Hassan Abdal on June 11 and will stay there two days before returning to Gurdawara Dera Sahib. They return to India on June 17. Arjun Dev Ji was martyred at the Ravi in Gurdawara Dera Sahib on May 30, 1606. Guru Hargobing Samvat, when he came to Lahore to visit the martyr’s birthplace, built a platform to mark the site where the Guru was killed. Maharaja Ranjit Singh later built a small gurdawara. A residence for pilgrims was built in 1925 and the Shromani Gurdawara Perbundhak Committee took charge of the reconstruction of the temple in April 1930. The domes were gold-plated and the floors were cemented. The front of the gurdawara is built with marble. In November 1996, the Pakistani government built the Mian Mir Block containing 47 rooms for visitors.