Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ashraf’s visit to Ajmer Dargah evokes mixed reaction

AJMER, March 9, 2013 PTI

Local lawyers and the Ajmer Dargah market association on Saturday joined the protest against the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in view of the recent brutal killing and beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistani Army.

The move comes a day after the Ajmer Sharif spiritual head said he will boycott the visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister.

"Due to security reasons, the market remains shut during the visit of VVIPs but this time we are closing the shops voluntarily well before the time set by the district administration," Jodha Tekchandani, Dargah Market Association President, told PTI.

"This is to register our protest against the visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister," he said.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah Diwan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan had on Friday said he will boycott the visit in protest against the recent brutal killing and beheading of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army.

A representative of Ajmer Bar Association, Rajesh Tandon, said that roads from where Mr. Ashraf's cavalcade will pass will be washed by water after his departure because his passage will make the land "unholy."

"External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is hosting a lunch for Ashraf, which is shameful. He should have not been given such a welcome. This is insult to the sentiments of Indians and the families of martyrs," he said.

Mr. Khan said the boycott is against the killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistan Army.

"Pakistan hurt our sentiments and did not initiate any action against its guilty personnel despite India's protest.

"At a time when tension is heightened between both the nations, and that too because of Pakistan, it is a widespread sentiment that Pakistan should tender an apology to government of India, our Army, families of martyrs and all the citizens before coming to Ziyarat," he told PTI.

Traditionally the Dargah Deewan, a descendant of the sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, remain present to welcome when nation head visits the shrine.

However, the Khadim (priest) community is all set to welcome the delegation and said the protest by the Dargah Deewan will not affect the ceremonies performed during the visit.

"Deewan has no interference in the Ziyarat or any other religious ceremony, which are performed when a nation head visits so his boycott will not have zero impact. The holy shrine is open for all and the visit should not be opposed," Bilal Chisti, a Khadim who will perform Ziyarat for Mr. Ashraf, said.

Another Khadim Zulfeqar Chisty said that the visit should not be politicised.

"People irrespective of caste, creed and region come to the Dargah. This is a religious matter and should not be politicised," he said.

The Pakistan Prime Minister will be received at the main gate by the representatives of Khadims' Anjuman committee and government's body Dargah committee at the Nizam gate amid beating of drums.

Elaborate security arrangements are in place for the visit with over 1,000 police personnel deployed to guard the entire area from the helipad to the Dargarh.

The Pakistani delegation comprising relatives and embassy officials will arrive by helicopters from Jaipur at Ghughara helipad on the outskirts of the city at 3.35 pm and thereafter they will proceed to the Dargah by road.

"A 28-member delegation including 19 relatives of the Pakistan PM and other officials will go to Dargah," Divisional Commissioner Kiran Soni Gupta said.

"Elaborate security arrangements are in place for the visit.The dargah premises will be vacated after afternoon prayer. None will be allowed to stay inside the premises except pass holders," an official of the district administration said.

Shortly after his arrival in Jaipur, Mr. Ashraf will be hosted to a lunch by Mr. Khurshid.
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