Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue vandalised in Pakistan

India says such attacks create a ‘climate of fear’ among the minority communities

August 18, 2021 03:45 am | Updated December 03, 2021 08:29 am IST - Lahore

File photo of a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh for representation.

File photo of a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh for representation.

A nine-foot-tall bronze statue of the first ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was on Tuesday vandalised by an activist of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan’s Punjab province, according to media reports.

India has slammed the act, saying Pakistan has completely failed in its duty to prevent such attacks which are creating a “climate of fear” among the minority communities.

A video clip circulating on social media shows the accused chanting slogans, breaking the arm of the statue and dismantling Singh’s bust from the horse and flinging it to the ground before being pulled away by another man.

The TLP activist has been arrested by the Punjab police, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The Lahore Fort’s administration said that strict action would be taken against the accused.

Reacting to the incident, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary in a tweet said that such “illiterates are really dangerous” for the country’s image internationally.

Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister on political communication, said that immediate action would be taken against the accused.

“These are symptoms of a sick mindset. This is an attempt to undermine Pakistan’s assessment,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

The statue was unveiled in June 2019. This is not the first time that the statue has been targeted. The arm of the statue was broken in Lahore last year. It was also damaged in August 2019 by two young men, according to Geo News.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.

India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said incidents of violence against minority communities, including attacks on their places of worship, their cultural heritage, as well as their private property, were increasing at an “alarming rate” in Pakistan.

‘Disturbing reports’

“We have seen disturbing reports in the media about the vandalisation of the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore today. This is the third such incident wherein the statue has been vandalised, since it was unveiled in 2019,” Mr. Bagchi said.

“Such attacks on the cultural heritage of minority communities in Pakistan highlight the growing intolerance and lack of respect for minority communities in Pakistani society,” he said.

“It was only 12 days ago that a mob attacked and desecrated a Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan,” he said.

“The Pakistani state has completely failed in its duty to prevent such attacks,” Mr. Bagchi said, adding “This is creating a climate of fear for the minority communities to practise their faith.” He urged Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities.

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