Other States

SGPC chief questions Nanded numbers

SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal.  

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal on Friday demanded a probe into the large number of Nanded Sikh pilgrims testing positive for COVID-19 on their return to Punjab, expressing the apprehension that they probably contracted the virus during the travel back home in State buses.

He claimed that all pilgrims were tested thrice during their month-long stay in Nanded and never showed any signs of illness.

‘Tests clear in Nanded’

Referring to a video of Sant Baba Balwinder Singh Ji Gurudwara Langar Sahib Nanded on Facebook, Mr. Longowal, speaking to The Hindu over phone, said the priest had claimed that the Sikh pilgrims during their stay in the gurdwara were tested thrice, but were found healthy. Raising questions over the “discrepancy” in the testing results, the SGPC chief said it was a matter of investigation.

“It seems that the pilgrims seemingly contracted the virus during their stay at Indore and other places during the journey. This also needs to be investigated,” Mr. Longowal said, adding that bringing back the devotees by air could have prevented the infection.

As many as 3,525 pilgrims from Nanded (Maharashtra) and 153 students from Rajasthan’s Kota have returned to Punjab over the past four days.

Besides, 3,085 labourers were also received at the Fazilka-Rajasthan border. Of those who have returned from Nanded, test reports were received for 577 persons till April 30 and 20% tested positive. Of the 105 fresh cases reported in the State on Thursday, 98 involved those from outside.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has attributed the infections in the State to three sources – Non-Resident Indians, religious congregation at Nizamuddin and Nanded returnees.

The large-scale infection of Nanded returnees has also led to fears of their vilification on the lines of those who participated in a religious congregation at Delhi’s Nizamuddin. Making an appeal to the masses to show restraint, Mr. Longowal has called upon them to treat the pilgrims as their “own people”.

‘Don’t listen to rumours’

Baba Balwinder has also appealed to the people not to pay heed to rumours on social media.

In his Facebook message, Baba Balwinder asked how the sevadars and the priests were healthy when the Sikh pilgrims were infected in such large numbers.

He said thermal screening of the pilgrims was carried out everyday during their stay in Nanded.

Mr. Longowal has also offered to arrange for the stay of the Sikh pilgrims in gurdwaras, saying he was getting calls from them complaining about the poor arrangements in the Deras.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:26:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sgpc-chief-questions-nanded-numbers/article31484827.ece

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