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Thursday, March 23, 2023

India’s Shihab Chottur enters Pakistan on foot to reach Saudi Arabia for Hajj

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Shihab, who is from Kerala, set off on a 3,000-kilometer foot adventure from his native state in October of last year.

An Indian individual who had previously been denied a visa by a Pakistani court entered the country on Tuesday to finish his long walk to Saudi Arabia to conduct Haj. Shihab Bhai, 29, came in Pakistan via the Wagah border and was greeted by Sarwar Taj, who had filed a writ suit in the Supreme Court on Shihab’s behalf, and Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, head of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation Pakistan. Shihab was overjoyed to acquire the visa to continue his journey to Mecca, according to Qureshi.

Shihab, who is from Kerala, set out on a 3,000-kilometer foot adventure from his home state to the Wagah border in October last year, when he was halted by Pakistani immigration officials because he did not have a visa.

Haj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which Muslims regard as the holiest city. Taj, a Lahore resident, petitioned the Lahore High Court (LHC) to obtain Shihab a transit visa so that he may go to Saudi Arabia. He contended that, just as the Pakistani government grants visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to attend Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary and other events, Shihab should be granted one as well.

The LHC denied his plea, noting that “the petitioner was neither connected to the Indian citizen, nor did he have his power of attorney to approach the court.” Taj later appealed the ruling to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

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