Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Pakistani Sikhs storm parliament complex, protest desecration of holy book

Press Trust of India | Islamabad | Posted: May 23, 2014 5:20 pm

Dozens of angry Sikhs stormed Pakistan’s parliament complex on Friday in protest against several instances of alleged desecration of their holy book over the past few years.

A police official said that according to initial investigation, the Sikhs entered the Red Zone along with the workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan, who, every Friday, holds a sit-in in front of the Election Commission for alleged rigging in the last year’s elections.

After setting foot in the high security area of the capital, the Sikhs reached the gate of the parliament building and held a brief sit-in, before breaking into the sprawling complex.

Police was taken by surprise as the Sikhs waved banners and raised slogans inside parliament.

The angry protesters said that their religious books were being insulted and demanded a law similar to the one for blasphemy, which prescribes stringent punishments for insulting the Quran, to punish the perpetrators.

They claimed that their religious sanctity had been violated as many as seven times during the last few years. The most recent incident being the desecration of the Guru Grant Sahib, the central religious text of Sikhism, in Mirpur Mathelo, in Sindh province, the Express Tribune reported.

Pakistan is home to about 20,000 Sikhs. A seven-member team of parliamentarians led by Zafar Ali Shah of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, including three minority lawmakers, held talks with the protesters and convinced them to leave the premises.

“They have listened to us and they have dispersed peacefully and we are thankful to them,” Shah told media after the incident.

The government also set up a 13-member committee to address their grievances.

It was for the first time that protesters entered the parliament.

National Assembly deputy speaker Murtaza Javed took notice of the incident and summoned Inspector General of Police, Islamabad.

He said the incident shows inefficiency on part of the police.

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