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Monday, October 26, 2020

Leaders condemn Nankana Sahib attack, Pakistan says gurdwara ‘untouched’

On Friday, a mob led by the family of a Muslim man, who had married a Sikh teen, reportedly threw stones at the birthplace of Guru Nanak and threatened to convert it into a mosque.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh, New Delhi | Updated: January 5, 2020 11:28:52 am
Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher, BJP vice-president Prabhat Jha and other leaders protest against the attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Chandigarh on Saturday. Kamleshwar Singh

A DAY after tension in Nankana Sahib, where a mob led by the family of a Muslim man who had married a Sikh teenage girl reportedly hurled stones at the birth place of Guru Nanak and threatened to convert it into a mosque, the Pakistan government on Saturday dismissed the incident as an altercation between two groups and said “attempts to paint this incident as a communal issue are patently motivated”.

“Most importantly, the gurdwara remains untouched and undamaged. All insinuations to the contrary, particularly the claims of acts of desecration and destruction of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous,” said an official release by the Pakistan foreign ministry.

The release was uploaded hours after the incident by the Press Information Department of Pakistan on its official website. It said, “The altercation happened over a minor incident at a tea stall. The district administration immediately intervened and arrested the accused, who are now in custody.”

A section of Pakistan media quoted another press release from the interior ministry which said the altercation occurred after two customers “complained of a fly in a tea cup” and were beaten up by tea stall owner and two others, who are relatives of Mohammad Hassan, to whom the Sikh girl, Jagjit Kaur, was “forcibly married” after she was “made to embrace Islam under duress”.

 

While the foreign ministry release said the accused were in custody, Imran, the man who allegedly led the mob and issued threats to Sikhs, uploaded a video on his Facebook page Friday evening — after the police intervened and mob was dispersed — thanking all administrative and police officials and saying that his family members who were arrested by police were “now back and safe”.

By Saturday afternoon, Imran, Hasssan’s elder brother, had removed the post.

The video however continued to be shared on other Facebook pages and social media platforms.

Later on Saturday, Imran in another video message sought pardon for his act. “Jaisa aapne kal ka vaakya dekha main jazbaat mein kaafi saari baatein kar gaya jisme sikhon ke baare mein bhi ki aur gurdware ke baare mein bhi ki (Like you saw in yesterday’s incident, being emotionally charged I said many things about Sikhs and gurdwara,” he is seen saying, adding that Sikhs “were our brothers, are our brothers and will remain our brothers and I will continue to respect Sikh and their place of worship like I did before.”

Read | Congress condemns Nankana Sahib gurdwara attack

Earlier, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Satwant Singh had sought the registration of a sacrilege case against Imran and his father Zulfiqar Ali.

Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Satwant Singh said, “These two people are defaming the entire community. It could also be a conspiracy of foreign countries also because Pakistan government has very good relations with Sikhs for a long time. It is obvious that other countries could not tolerate this.”

The Friday incident, which kept members of the Sikh community on tenterhooks for around four hours in Nankana Sahib, took place days ahead of a court hearing where Jagjit Kaur, the daughter of Tambu Sahib gurdwara’s head granthi Bhagwan Singh, would tell court whether she wants to be with her paternal family or with Hassan. The hearing is scheduled on January 9, said Sheikh Sultan, the counsel of Jagir Kaur, who was named Ayesha after she embraced Islam and married Hassan in last August.

Jagjit’s family had alleged that six armed persons including a woman had barged into their house and kidnapped Jagjit, forced her to “embrace Islam and marry Hassan” on August 28 last year.

A case of abduction was registered on the complaint of her family.

Jagjit’s brother Surinder Singh had threatened that the family would immolate themselves outside the Governor’s house on August 31 if Jagjit was not returned to the family. A video however appeared on social media where Jagjit Kaur says she embraced Islam out of her own will, was getting married of her own will, was 19 years old and did not bring any ornaments or valuable things from her parents’ house.

On the directions of the court, on August 29, Jagjit was sent to a shelter home in Lahore.

Advocate Sultan told The Indian Express that Hassan’s mother was among those booked in the abduction case. Sultan however said the abduction FIR was quashed later. Sultan said Hassan’s father retired from a “clerical” post in a body which takes care of the administration of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib.

Sultan said Jagjit’s family approached court saying that she was a minor and produced her school certificate to claim that she was 15 years and 9 months old. “But, as per a government record, she was 19 years. On the directions of the court, her bone ossification test was conducted under the supervision of medical superintendent. So the girl’s parents’ plea was dismissed by court,” said Sultan.

Sultan added that Jagjit had moved an application in court seeking that she be “freed” from the shelter home. “The hearing in that case is scheduled on January 9.

Condemning the “attack” and “the language used for Sikhs”, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal on Saturday said that SGPC will send a four-member delegation comprising SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh, senior vice-president Rajinder Singh Mehta, Golden Temple manager Rajinder Singh and SGPC member Surjit Singh

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