A group of local people have partially demolished the centuries-old Guru Nanak palace in Bathanwala village in Pakistan’s Narowal city and sold its precious windows, doors and ventilators, Dawn reported on Monday. The walls of the four-storey building had pictures of Sikhism’s founder, and various Hindu rulers and princes.
There were 16 large rooms in the building, all of which had at least three beautiful doors and at least four ventilators. “This old building is called the Palace of Baba Guru Nanak and we have named it Mahalan,” a local resident identified as Muhammad Aslam told the newspaper. “A number of Sikhs from across the world, including India, used to visit this building.”
There are allegations that officials of the government’s auqaf and religious affairs department are involved too. “The auqaf department was informed about the demolition of the building by some influential persons, but no officer or official took any action or even reached here,” alleged Muhammad Ashraf, another local resident. “Three storeys of the building have already been demolished and new houses constructed. The influentials have demolished the building with the connivance of the auqaf department and sold its costly windows, doors, ventilators and wood.”
However, there is no clarity regarding legal status of the building, its owners or the government department that has its records. “There is no mention of this building in the revenue record,” said Narowal Deputy Commissioner Waheed Asghar, who is in charge of records of all properties in the region. “As it seemed to be historical, we are checking the municipal committee’s record.” He said he had stopped the demolition of the building.
Evacuee Trust Property Board Sialkot zone Rent Collector Rana Waheed said his team was investigating the matter. “If this palace was the property of Evacuee Trust Property Board, legal action will be taken against those responsible.”
Local residents asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to take immediate notice of the destruction of this “heritage site” and take action against those who demolished it.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of the story carried a picture of the Kartarpur gurdwara instead of the Guru Nanak Palace in Narowal, and has now been updated.