June 2004 News

First ever Pak tourist in J&K

18 June 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

Jammu: In the 57 years since the Partition, Jammu and Kashmir had the first tourist from Pakistan today when a group of three Pak nationals arrived in Leh to attend the Sindhu Darshan Festival. Mr Janardhan Bhagwan Das alias Sain Sadaram Sahib received rousing reception when the organisers of the festival introduced him as the first ever guest in Ladakh from the neighbouring country. The Sain is the head priest of Sindh province in Pakistan and is accompanied on his maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir by his associates, Mr. Lakshmi Chand, a singer, and Mr. Satram Das. The three are the first regular tourists from Pakistan visiting the State. Earlier, the Pakistani nationals have come here either as officials or members of some delegations. The group has come on the invitation of the Chairman, Sindhi Academy, New Delhi, Mr. Suresh Keswani who was also present on the occasion. The Chief Minister welcomed the arrival of the guests from the neighbouring country and hoped that it would augur well for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. He said he had always advocated greater contact between the people of the two countries to foster friendship and remove misconceptions. He hoped that in the years to come more and more people from Pakistan would come here as tourists. The Chief Minister presented gifts to Sain Sadaram Sahib. The latter reciprocated the gesture with a Pakistani turban which, he said, he had brought especially for the Chief Minister. The head priest of Sindh was overwhelmed by the affection he received from the people. Asked how he felt to be in Jammu and Kashmir, he replied, 'Fantastic', adding that it was a great experience for him to visit the place. He said that after coming here he was of the opinion that the barriers dividing the people of the two countries should go and free movement of citizens on either side should be allowed to strengthen bonds of friendship and amity. He said he wanted the two countries to come closer so that both work together for the welfare of the people. On this occasion, the Union Minister for Tourism, Ms. Renuka Chowdhary introduced a courageous girl, Ms. Malvika Aiyyar from Tamil Nadu who despite severe physical handicap has topped the CBSE examination in Chennai this year. The girl had lost both her hands in a blast in Rajasthan where her father was posted but never gave up her determination to make it to the top. With a pair of artificial hands and a leg that had no sensation, she appeared in the Board exam and secured 483 marks out of 500.


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