Lahore: A Pakistani man on Wednesday challenged in the Supreme Court the Lahore High Court’s decision to dismiss his plea, seeking a transit visa for a 29-year-old Indian national who wanted to enter the country so that he could complete a marathon journey on foot to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage.
Sarwar Taj, the petitioner and a resident of Lahore, in his plea, a copy of which is available with PTI, argued that just as the Pakistan government issues visas to a number of Indian Sikhs during the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev and on other occasions and to Hindus to visit their holy places in the country, it should also give a visa to the Indian Muslim man, who is keen to reach Saudi Arabia by foot to perform Hajj pilgrimage.
Shihab Chottur in June set out on an 8,640 km journey on foot from his hometown in Kerala to Mecca to perform Haj in 2023. He wanted to reach Mecca for Haj in 2023 after traversing India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.
However, he was stopped by Pakistan’s immigration authorities at the Wagah border in October as he did not have a visa.
Shihab pleaded before the immigration authorities that he was going to perform Hajj on foot as he had already travelled 3,000 kms and should be allowed to enter the country on humanitarian grounds. He wanted a transit visa to reach Saudi Arabia via Iran.
Last month, the LHC division bench comprising Justice Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal and Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir dismissed the intra-court appeal filed by Taj on behalf of Shihab. The court observed that the “petitioner was not related to the Indian citizen, nor did he hold his power of attorney to approach the court.”
It also sought “complete particulars of the Indian citizen,” which the petitioner could not furnish.
Challenging the Lahore High Court’s decision in the apex court, the Pakistani citizen said that such matters should be decided on the basis of love and affection and not reasoning or codified law so as to meet with notions of equality and fair play.
“The LHC’s order is based on illegal assumptions and presumptions,” he said and added he is “neither a spy of India as a learned judge of LHC had tried to insinuate during the hearing nor a relative of Shihab.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)