LAHORE : At least 482 Sikh pilgrims arrived from India on Thursday through the Wagah border crossing to attend the 180th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh .  Indian Sikhs also attended the sculpture unveiling ceremony of Ranjit Singh outside the Sikh Gallery at Lahore Fort.  Pilgrims were welcomed by Evacuee Trust Property Board Secretary Muhammad Tariq, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Sardar Tara Singh and other dignitaries.  Talking to the media at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, group leader Sardar Sukhwindar Singh lauded the reception by Pakistan. “We are thankful to the Pakistan government for allowing a large number of Sikh pilgrims to attend the death anniversary of Ranjit Singh ,” he said. He said that Sikh pilgrims came to Pakistan with a message of peace and harmony.

Pilgrims from eight different groups from India arrived yesterday. Following are names of the groups: Dehli Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, International Bhai Mardana Society Ferozpur, Utter Pradesh Sikh Federation, Khalra Mission Committee Amritsar, SGPC Golden Temple Indian Punjab, United Akali Dal, Nana Sahib Sikh Yatri Jatha and pilgrims from Haryana State. According to ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi, main ceremony at Dera Sahib for the 180th death anniversary of Ranjit Singh would be held on June 29 (tomorrow). Indian Sikhs while attending a statue unveiling ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore Fort lauded the steps taken by the government of Pakistan to promote peace and tourism. Punjab Minister for Tourism Raja Yasir was chief guest at the ceremony. He said the government was paying special attention to religious tourism.  Walled City of Lahore Authority Director General Kamran Lashari, President of SK Foundation Bobby Singh and Faqir Saifuddin were also present at the ceremony.

Faqir Saifuddin said the statue was prepared with bronze fibre and students from NCA and Naqsh School of Arts worked on the statue.

Director General of the Walled City Lahore Authority Kamran Lashari said more steps would be taken to promote religious tourism.

Bobby Singh, who had commissioned the statue, said he was honoured and loved by people of Pakistan and he would do more projects to promote religious tourism.

The Lahore Transport Company in collaboration with its private transport operator made special transport arrangements for Sikh pilgrims. The LTC provided non-stop bus service from the Wagah Railway Station to Gurdwara Dera Sahib as requested by the Evacuee Trust Property Board. The step is in compliance with the agreed protocol between India and Pakistan.