New Delhi: A day after a group of local Muslims pelted stones on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib near Lahore and threatened to destroy it, several political leaders cutting across party lines condemned the attack and called on the Indian government to take up the issue with Pakistani authorities to ensure the safety of pilgrims and adequate security for the shrine.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body which manages Sikh shrines, said it will send a four-member delegation to Pakistan to take stock of the situation in Nankana Sahib. SGPC also plans to take up the matter with the United Nations.
Amid the backlash and reports of desecration of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, Pakistan issued a statement on Saturday saying that there was an altercation near the gurdwara, but it was not a communal one.
Calling it a “scuffle in the city of Nankana Sahib on Friday between two Muslim groups”, Pakistan said that the accused have been arrested and attempts to paint the incident as a communal one 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,” Pakistan government said.
The statement followed Indian government’s demand for action against those who had attacked the gurdwara.
In Delhi, members of the Sikh community protested near the Pakistan High Commission and claimed to have submitted a memorandum, asking Islamabad to “explain the failure of law enforcing agencies” in the country.
The protestors raised slogans against Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sikh groups also organised a langar on the road near the Pakistan High Commission in which people of all communities participated.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress also held protests, but none of the protesters were allowed to go near the Pakistan HC. The government has increased the security cover around the Pakistan mission with an additional layer of CRPF personnel.
According to reports quoting Pakistani police officials, the mob that attacked Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on Friday was led by the family of a Muslim man who had married a Sikh girl. Police said the family was protesting the arrest of their relatives for alleged forced conversion of the girl.
“The provincial authorities in the Punjab province have informed that there was scuffle in the city of Nankana Sahib between two Muslim groups. The altercation happened on a minor incident at a tea-stall. The district administration immediately intervened and arrested the accused, who are now in custody,”
Pakistan government said in a statement. It added that attempts to paint the incident as a communal one are “patently motivated”.