By Mohit Dubey
The Uttar Pradesh government has chalked out a first-of-its-kind plan to take a group of Hindus and Muslims on a joint pilgrimage.
The ‘dharmarth karya’ department has issued a government order (GO) in which 10 Muslim and Hindu devouts from each district will be taken on a pilgrimage in a single trip, including a visit to Pushkar and Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.
Pushkar is holy for Hindus while Ajmer Sharif is venerated by Muslims as well as people of other faiths.
Principal Secretary (Religious Works) Navneet Sehgal said that the process of receiving applications and subsequently sorting them out has begun in all the 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
“The idea is not only to provide better travel opprtunities to the residents of UP and the elderly but also to promote communal harmony,” the official said.
The tour will be conducted by the state government, under the ongoing Samajwadi Shravan Yatra – a state sponsored pilgrimage started a few months back, with help of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
A special train with arrangement for 1,044 berths has been booked for the pilgrimage.
The proposed date for the pilgrimage is July 23 and the department is working to ensure that the ‘yatra’ takes off on time, officials say.
This time the state government has also made online registration facilities available for people. The devout will have to submit documents required for availing the trip along with an application.
The applications are invited till July 10 after which these would be sorted out and travel tickets issued.
In the first round, 900 devotees were taken to Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. In this trip to Ajmer Sharif and Pushkar Teerth Raj in Rajasthan, the pilgrims would be getting air-conditioned luxury buses after the train journey to travel to their destinations.
The pilgrims would be provided budget lodging and given a travel kit.
“Other than this, they would be given morning tea, breakfast, lunch, evening tea – only on the train journey – and a nutritious dinner,” said Sehgal.