A day after the historic Gurdwara Nanakana Sahib in Lahore was desecrated in a mob attack, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday condemned the “unwarranted and unprovoked” incident. Expressing dismay and concern, she called upon the government to immediately take up the issue with Pakistan and ensure the safety of pilgrims and adequate security for the shrine to prevent any future attack.
“The government should press for immediate registration of case, arrest and action against the culprits,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Pakistan rejected “claims of destructions” at the historic shrine and called media reports “false”. The Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement said there was a scuffle in the city of Nankana Sahib on Friday between two Muslim groups and the district administration immediately intervened and arrested the accused.
“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’ and desecration of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous,” the Foreign Office said.
It said the Pakistan government was committed to upholding law and order and providing security and protection to the people, especially minorities. It added that the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan’s special care extended to the minorities, in line with the vision of the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The police Friday said a group of people, led by the family of a Muslim man who married a Sikh teenager, held a day-long sit-in outside the gurdwara to protest the arrest of their relatives who were held for alleged forced conversion of the girl.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body which manages Sikh shrines, will send a four-member delegation to Pakistan to take stock of the situation. Strongly condemning the attack, SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal appealed to the Pakistan government to take strict action against the culprits.
“We strongly condemn the attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and appeal to the Pakistan government to take stringent action against the culprits and also ensure safety of Sikhs living there,” Longowal said.
“We will send a four-member delegation to Pakistan to take stock of the situation there,” he said, adding that the delegation would also meet Sikh families in Nankana Sahib. “The delegation will also meet Pakistan’s Punjab Governor and Chief Minister.”
On Friday, the External Affairs Ministry said that members of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan were subjected to acts of violence at the holy city of Nankana Sahib. The ministry said reprehensible actions followed the forcible abduction and conversion of a Sikh girl who was kidnapped from her home in the city of Nankana Sahib in August last year.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had on Friday expressed concern over the mob attack on the Nankana Sahib gurdwara.
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