Train-Bus collision in Pakistan’s Punjab kills Sikh Pilgrims

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Officials said the Sikh pilgrims were from the northwestern city of Peshawar and were returning from the Sheikupura-based shrine of Nankana Sahib. IMAGE/COURTESY

A bus carrying Sikh pilgrims collided with a train at an unmanned railway crossing in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 22 people and injuring several others, a senior government official has said.

According to a statement from Imran Gondala Pakistani government official whose department oversees Sikh pilgrimages, the accident took place on Friday in Sheikhupura district in Punjab province.

Ghazi Salahuddin, the district police chief, said the dead and injured were taken to a nearby hospital.

Officials said the Sikh pilgrims were from the northwestern city of Peshawar and were returning from the Sheikupura-based shrine of Nankana Sahib.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

“[I] have directed relevant authorities to ensure facilitation and care for all the families. Our entire railway’s operational safety SOPs will be reviewed immediately,” he tweeted.

Sikhs have several shrines of their religious leaders in Pakistan. One, of Sikh founder Guru Nanak, is located in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, bordering India, in Punjab. It was built after he died in the 16th century.

Many Sikh holy sites became part of Pakistan after the British partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947 following two centuries of colonial rule.

Ties between the hostile neighbouring countries deteriorated sharply after India revoked the disputed Kashmir region’s semi-autonomous status in early August.