Pakistani Ahmadis travel to India for a week of freedom

On Saturday hundreds of Pakistani Ahmadis walked into India to experience a week of religious freedom in the secular republic. The group was part of the 1,800 Ahmadis who have been given visas by the Indian government to attend their annual convention in the Indian Punjab.The three days event will run from 29th to 31st December.

The annual event is significant for the Ahmadis from Pakistan who saw their faith outlawed by Pakistan in 1974, while their annual gatherings were subsequently banned in 1984. This is why many of them each year make the journey from Pakistan to Qadian, India, a town 65miles east of Lahore.

During their time in India, they get to enjoy a week of religious freedom where they can freely offer five daily prayers and greet each other with the Islamic greetings, small acts which can land them in Jail back home.

In India, they are warmly received not just by fellow Ahmadis but also by the local Sikhs and Hindu population along with leaders and politicians. Past convention speakers include prominent Indian actor Vinod Khanna, cricketer and TV personality, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Member of Parliament Pratap Singh Bajwa , BJP Leader Master Mohan Lal and Cabinet Minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan.

The Ahmadis who identify themselves as Muslims are unable to practice their faith in the Islamic republic and each year in December thousands of them make their way to India to attend the annual Ahmadi convention in Qadian, a town 65miles east of Lahore.

In 2016 India issued over 5,000 vias to Pakistani Ahmadis but not a single one of them could attend the event due to security concerns, however, an estimated 6,000 Ahmadis attended the same conference back in 2015.

The surge of Pakistani visitors in the town of Qadian can be compared to the Pakistani town of Nankana Sahib which also hosts a large number of Sikhs pilgrims from India.

 

Ehsan Rehan
Ehsan is the founder & editor of Rabwah Times. He is currently baesd in Washington D.C. from where he covers Human Rights & Religious Freedom issues. He tweets at @Ehzan
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