New Delhi: The spike in Covid-19 cases in Punjab after the return of around 500 Sikh pilgrims in private vehicles from Nanded ’s Takht Hazur Sahib of Maharashtra has raised concern among officials in Punjab, Haryana , UP and Delhi , as more pilgrims are on their way to these states. On the Centre’s intervention, the Maharashtra government has transported over 3,800 stranded Sikh pilgrims in buses from Nanded to Punjab. Several leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union ministers Harsimrat Badal and Prakash Javadekar had appealed for facilitating their return. Delhi health officials said “quarantine facilities similar to those for students from Kota are being made for the Sikh pilgrims too.” The shrine, located on the banks of the Godavari in Marathwada, is considered the place Guru Gobind Singh visited last and attracts thousands of pilgrims every week. Until trains stopped running in the last week of March, pilgrims from Punjab and neighbouring states continued to visit the place. A senior official said over 500 had returned to Punjab in private vehicles. Health department officials are now trying to trace them and put them under home quarantine, he said, even as Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu blamed the Maharashtra government for ‘not screening them properly’. However, the secretary of the Sikh Gurdwara Takht Sachkhand, Nanded, Ravinder Singh Bumgai, said it was unfortunate that the holy place was being linked to a large number of Covid-19 cases. Since the lockdown, we lodged the stranded plgrims here and have been working with authorities to sent them back,” Bumgai said.
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