India denies visa to Pakistani devotees scheduled to leave for Ajmer Sharif Dargah (File Photo)
Amid strain ties between the two neighbouring countries in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Pakistan on Monday alleged that India has refused to grant visas to around 500 Pakistani devotees intending to travel to Ajmer Sharif Dargah, located at Ajmer city in Rajasthan. Speaking to Radio Pakistan, Pakistan's Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said India has denied visa to around five hundred Pakistani devotees, who were scheduled to leave for the Sufi shrine in the neighbouring country on Thursday
Qadri said the Ministry has sent an intimation to all the devotees via SMS after it received information of cancellation from the Indian embassy. The Indian embassy is yet to return the passports of these devotees, he stated. During his interaction to Radio Pakistan, the minister also added that Pakistan has granted visas to 5,600 Sikh pilgrims during a year, while visas were also granted to 312 Hindu devotees.
The move comes amid an escalation of tension between India and Pakistan after the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan on February 26, in response to the cowardice attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14. The gruesome terror attack on a CRPF convoy left 41 jawans dead and dozens of others injured.
A day after Balakot airstrike, Pakistan jets also intruded into Indian air space in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors, adding fuel to the already worse situation. The flare up in the cross-LoC shelling, which was initiated by Pakistani troops, resulted in security forces and other establishments being put on a heightened alert across India.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah, situated at the foot of the Taragarh hill is just 2 kilometres away from the main central Ajmer Railway station. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, it is an international waqf and Islamic mortmain managed by the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 of the Government of India. Over 150,000 pilgrims from different parts of the country throng to Rajasthan to catch a single glimpse of the Dargah.