Tension mounted in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and there was outrage in India after a mob, led by the family of a Muslim man who had married a Sikh teenage girl, hurled stones at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev, and threatened to convert it into a mosque.
Police said the family was protesting the arrest of their relatives for alleged forced conversion of the girl.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to “immediately intervene to ensure that the devotees stranded in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib are rescued and the historic Gurdwara is saved from the angry mob surrounding it”.
Calling the attack “despicable”, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the matter with Imran Khan. “Mob Attack on Gurdwara Sri #NankanaSahib, birth place of Guru Nanak Dev ji, is a despicable act and I urge PM @narendramodi ji to take it up with Pak PM @ImranKhanPTI. We have to ensure safety of Sikhs in Pakistan and I trust that the govt will address the issue on priority,” he said in a tweet.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs said the Pakistan government must “take immediate steps”.
“We are concerned at the vandalism carried out at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurdwara today. Members of the minority Sikh community have been subjected to acts of violence in the holy city of Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji. 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.”
“India strongly condemns these wanton acts of destruction and desecration of the holy place. We call upon the Government of Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community. Strong action must be taken against the miscreants who indulged in desecration of the holy Gurudwara and attacked members of the minority Sikh community. In addition, Government of Pakistan is enjoined to take all measures to protect and preserve the sanctity of the holy Nankana Sahib Gurudwara and its surroundings,” the MEA stated.
Speaking over phone from inside the gurdwara, Gopal Singh Chawla, a Khalistan activist and former officer-bearer of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), said the mob led by Imran, brother of Mohammad Hassan who married the Sikh girl and “forced” her to convert to Islam, tried to “barge into the shrine after pelting stones”.
A video clip of the incident showed Imran, the man identified by Chawla as Hassan’s brother, issuing threats to Sikhs and the mob cheering. Imran mentioned how he was beaten by police and told that his brother should divorce the girl. He said the family was told to “return” the girl to Sikhs but “we said we will go by the decision of the court and the girl” — Jagjit Kaur is currently in a shelter for women in Lahore.
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa shared a clip where a man videotaping the protest is heard appealing to the “Sikh sangat” not to step out of their homes. Sirsa said a protest would be held outside the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday.