August 18, 2021 8:30:57 am
The vandalism of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue by a religious zealot at the Lahore Fort sparked sharp reactions from political parties in India with Shiromani Akali Dal demanding Centre’s intervention to ensure reconstruction of the statue and the BJP training its guns on Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, questioning his “silence”.
The nine-feet tall cold bronze statue of the first Sikh ruler was vandalised for the third time since it was installed at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan’s Punjab province in 2019.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, in a tweet said: “I condemn the vandalization of Sher-E-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue at Lahore Fort. This has happened for the 3rd time. It has hurt Sikh sentiments profoundly. I urge @MEAIndia to intervene & ensure reconstruction of the statue at the same site along with safety measures,” Badal tweeted.
BJP national general Tarun Chugh questioned the “silence” of Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over this incident.
He asked Sidhu to question his “friend” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the vandalisation of the statue which happened for the third time.
The BJP leader reminded Sidhu that it was during the term of Imran Khan that Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been insulted and denigrated in Lahore. “Can please Sidhu ask his friend why is it happening”, Chugh asked.
He said now the Imran Khan government was lending full support to the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Has Sidhu lost his tongue to speak for India and the Indians,” Chugh asked.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur in Amritsar also condemned the vandalisation of the statue.
In a statement, Kaur said Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Sikh ruler in whose kingdom all had equal rights and there was no discrimination against anyone. “Demolishing his statue and expressing hatred was an act against humanitarian concerns. I appeal to the government of Pakistan to take stern action against those responsible so that no such heinous act is committed again,” said Kaur.
Earlier, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, said, “We strongly condemned the act of damaging the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh by a misguided individual”.
Union Minister Hardeep Puri too had condemned the incident. “Vandalism in Lahore of the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji, the great unifier of India, has to be strongly condemned. This act, which attempts to erase the shared history of the subcontinent, shows how extremist ideologies feel emboldened in our volatile neighbourhood,” he said in a tweet.
BJP national president JP Nadda said “the silence of the Pakistani authorities” on the incident is “deafening”. “It makes many wonder, is the Pakistani state complicit in such attacks against minorities,” he asked.
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