Nankana Sahib gurdwara not vandalised, claims Pakistan, says shrine is ‘untouched and undamaged’
The Pakistan Foreign Office claimed attempts were made to paint a scuffle between two Muslim groups in the city ‘as a communal issue’.
Pakistan on Friday dismissed news reports that claimed Gurdwara Nankana Sahib near Lahore had been vandalised by a mob. The gurdwara is at the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, was born. It is considered to be one of the holiest Sikh shrines.
According to ANI, an angry mob of residents had stormed the shrine on Friday. The group was led by the family of a boy who had allegedly abducted the daughter of the gurdwara’s pathi last year. A pathi reads the scriptures of the Guru Granth Sahib – Sikhism’s holiest book. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs claimed “members of the minority Sikh community” had been “subjected to acts of violence” in Nankana Sahib. “These reprehensible actions followed the forcible abduction and conversion of Jagjit Kaur, the Sikh girl who was kidnapped from her home in the city of Nankana Sahib in August last year,” it added.
Manmohan Singh, the brother of Jagjit Kaur, told The Times of India that “they [Muslims] have attacked the gurdwara and are pelting stones”. “We [Sikhs] are confined to our homes or gurdwaras,” he added.
The Pakistan Foreign Office, in a midnight statement, said provincial authorities in Punjab province had informed it that a scuffle had broken out in Nankana Sahib between two Muslim groups at a tea stall. The district administration immediately intervened and arrested the accused, it added.
“Attempts to paint this incident as a communal issue are patently motivated,” the foreign office added. “Most importantly, the gurdwara remains untouched and undamaged. All insinuations to the contrary, particularly the claims of acts of ‘desecration and destruction’ and desecration of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous.”
Islamabad reiterated its commitment to upholding law and order, and providing security and protection to people, especially minorities.
In August, Pakistan had formed a high-level committee to negotiate with a 30-member team formed by the Sikh community in connection with Kaur’s alleged abduction. The police identified the suspects and traced them to Lahore, detaining one of them. Three people involved in the incident received anticipatory bail, while two were reported to be absconding. Kaur, then 19 years old, was allegedly kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and made to marry a Muslim man.