By Amit Agnihotri
New Delhi: India today strongly registered its protest with Pakistan over the forceful conversion of a Sikh Gurdwara in Lahore into a Mosque and asked the western neighbour to probe the matter and protect its Sikh minorities.
“A strong protest was lodged with the Pakistan High Commission today on the reported incident whereby Gurdwara ‘Shahidi Asthan‘, site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh Ji at Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore, Pakistan, has been claimed as the place of Masjid Shahid Ganj and attempts are being made to convert it to a Mosque,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.
Gurdwara Shahidi Asthan is a historical religious shrine of the Sikh community where Bhai Taru Ji made the supreme sacrifice in 1745. The Gurdwara is revered by the Sikh community worldwide, and the incident has evoked sharp reactions within India.
The attack on the Sikh shrine has been treated with grave concern prompting calls for justice for the minority Sikh community in Pakistan. Keeping the sentiments of the Sikh community in mind, India called upon Pakistan to investigate the matter and take immediate remedial measures.
India also called upon Pakistan to look after the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities, including protection of their religious rights and cultural heritage.
In contrast, yesterday around eleven members belonging to the Sikh and Hindu minority community of Afghanistan arrived in New Delhi seeking asylum. The group included Sikh community leader Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was kidnapped by Pakistan supported terrorists and later released from their captivity on July 18.
India has granted appropriate visa and facilitated their travel to India. These people will be rehabilitated and in due course, granted citizenship in accordance with applicable laws and rules.
India thanked the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe travel of these families to India.