Special Correspondent

Rajasthan Minorities’ panel Chairman approaches Centre

“Has hurt religious sentiments of Sikh”

Shrine has remains of Bhai Taro Singh

JAIPUR: Rajasthan State Minorities’ Commission Chairman Jasbir Singh has expressed concern over reports that the 18th Century Bhai Taro Singh Jee Gurdwara at Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore has been taken over by a group of Muslims, and demanded that the Centre intervene immediately for restoration of the shrine to Sikhs in Pakistan.

Mr. Singh, who was approached by a large number of Sikhs from across the State expressing anguish over the development, noted that Muslims painted the gurdwara’s minarets green and replaced its religious symbols with Islamic motifs and slogans. “The reports of forcible possession of the historic gurdwara have hurt the religious sentiments of Sikh community in Rajasthan,” said Mr. Singh in a letter to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

He requested them to convey Sikhs’ concern to the authorities in Pakistan and ask them to take action to free the place of worship.

Mr. Singh said Mampal Singh, a local Sikh leader of Lahore, had accused the Auqaf Board of Pakistan of conniving with extremists in forcibly occupying the gurdwara and stopping Sikh worshippers from entering it, for the past two months.

The 250-year-old gurdwara has the remains of Bhai Taro Singh, a patron of the poor, who died in 1745. The shrine built by the Sikh community in his honour is presently in the custody of the Evacuee Trust Property Board of Pakistan as an alien property.