Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

The fading memory of amity

The media discussed the protest, rather than the cause of the protest, simply because a self-centred state could not understand why Sikhs from Nankana in Punjab were so agitated about the violation of Hindu temples in Sindh and referring to the desecration of their  holy book. The media discussed the protest, rather than the cause of the protest, simply because a self-centred state could not understand why Sikhs from Nankana in Punjab were so agitated about the violation of Hindu temples in Sindh and referring to the desecration of their holy book.
Written by Khaled Ahmed | Posted: June 27, 2014 12:05 am

On May 24, 2014, about 300 Sikhs from Nankana Sahib came to Islamabad and entered the parliament to protest against the desecration of their holy book, the Granth Sahib, in Sindh and remained on the premises for several hours before being driven out by the police.

The media discussed the protest, rather than the cause of the protest, simply because a self-centred state could not spare time to understand why Sikhs from Nankana in Punjab were so agitated about the violation of Hindu temples in Sindh, referring to their holy book.

At the Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Sikh Council (PSC) patron Ramesh Singh demanded the following week that the government — comprising of the secular PPP and MQM — investigate why copies of the Sikh holy book were burnt inside Hindu temples across the province, including in Sukkur, Dadu and Shikarpur, Hyderabad, Badin, Larkana and famine-hit Tharparkar. There are only 20,000 Sikhs in Pakistan; Hindus, mainly concentrated in Sindh, number 2.5 million.

On March 31, the daily Dawn of Karachi wrote a staid editorial, half-guessing who could have done the desecration and appealing to the Sindh government to do something about it. It did not touch the issue of the Sikhs for some reason and could not connect the Granth Sahib to the violated Hindu temples. There was a moment of mystification in the country and then all was quiet again till the next outrage against the fleeing Hindus.

The tide of Islam has already reached Sindh where the public memory of Hindu-Muslim amity is still fresh. But the knowledge of Nanakshahi Hinduism is fading and temples arouse hostility among the new generations.

Sindhi scholar Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro reminds his compatriots that an Udasipanth cult was founded in Sindh by Baba Srichand, the elder son of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion: “It is believed that he visited Thatta and other towns of Sindh. In order to commemorate his visit, a large darbar was built in Faqir Jo Goth, a village that lies 5 km away from Thatta.”

About the presence of the Granth Sahib in Hindu temples, it is claimed that the temples of Udasis are known as darbars while Nanakshahis call them tikano. Both give the Granth Sahib the pride of place in their temples along with pictures of the Hindu pantheon.

A Sikh visiting Gujarat narrates: “When I first came to Gujarat (carved out of old Bombay State continued…

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