Nankana Sahib Gurudwara, also known as Gurudwara Janam Asthan is an important place for the Sikhs. This place gets its name from Guru Nanank Dev Ji as it is his birthplace. On Friday, many people allegedly pelted stones at the Gurudwara in response to the forced conversion of Sikh girl into a Muslim.
In August 2019, an FIR was registered according to which Jagjit Kaur who was the daughter of a granthi (caretaker) was abducted by six men and forcefully converted into Islam. But soon after this, the girl claimed in a written statement that she underwent conversion and married Ehsan who is one of the accused voluntarily. The Sikh community protested against it and demanded her return but she intended on staying with her husband. Therefore, she was later shifted to a different place.
Following this incident, the police raided the house of Ehsan on Friday ahead of a court hearing on January 9. Several family members including Ehsan were detained by the police. The District Police Officer stated the reason of arrest as a complaint filed by citizens regarding a dispute. He did not clear the air about the pressure and torture the police had undergone from the public.
Accoording to the Dawn, the protest outside the Gurudwara was led by Ehsan’s family. The outraged people demanded the release of the six accused in Jagjit Kaur case. They threatened to overrun the Gurudwara. Soon after this, many videos of stone pelting and threats like change of name, conversion to mosque, etc. surfaced online which angered the Sikh community.
SITUATION IN INDIA
Condemning the vandalism, the Ministry of External Affairs of India issued the statement that read – “We are concerned at the vandalism carried out at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurudwara 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.”
The government also urged the Pakistani Government to take immediate and stringent measures for the protection of the ‘minority’ Sikhs. The politicians across various parties termed this act of vandalism as ‘cowardly’ and ‘shameful’ and demaded immediate actions. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, showed his concern and demanded swift intervention.
Protests broke out across India. The protesters took to the streets near Pakistan High Commission demanding measures for safety and protection of the Sikhs. The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex management body of Sikh shrines, decided to send a four-member delegation to Pakistan. It also urged the Pakistani government to take immediate action.
The issue was soon politicized over the silence of Navjot Singh Sidhu. All- India Anti-Terrorist Front Chief Maninder Singh Bitta and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi questioned his silence.
RESPONSE BY PAKISTAN
Pakistan’s Foreign Office in his statement suggested that “claims of destruction” were false and the Gurudwara was infact “untouched and undamaged”.
Imran Khan condemned the incident as it goes against his ‘vision’. He also added that the government, police and judiciary will show ‘zero tolerance and protection’ against those involved. He did not leave the opportunity to criticize the attacks ‘targeted attacks’ on Muslims and minorities across India.According to a top official, the main accused was later arrested. He has been charged with Anti-Terrorism Act.
MURDER OF 25- YEAR OLD SIKH BOY
The security concerns for minorities in Pakistan were fueled further after the murder of a 25- year old Sikh Boy. This came two days after the vandalism at Nankana Sahib. The person identified as Ravinder Singh was murdered in Peshawar. He was the brother of Pakistan’s first Sikh news anchor, Harmeet Singh.
The news was taken up by Amit Shah to fuel support for CAA. At a campaign trail in New Delhi, Amit Shah commented that the position of the minority Sikhs in Pakistan comes as an ‘answer’ to those who oppose CAA. He critcised the Congress leaders for provoking minorities.
As a response to this, Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress President, advised the Union government to draft measures for the security of minorities along with Pakistan Government without using Sikh sentiments to justify CAA.