NCM team visits Arunachal Pradesh to study Buddhist shrine-Gurdwara row

Sikhs claim that the Neh Pema Shelpu Drupkhang, a cave revered by the local Buddhist Memba community, is a gurdwara 

May 19, 2023 09:21 am | Updated 11:44 am IST - GUWAHATI

NCM team visiting a disputed shrine in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district.

NCM team visiting a disputed shrine in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A two-member team of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) visited Mechukha in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district on Thursday, May 18 to study a religious site disputed by the local Buddhists and Sikhs. 

NCM vice-chairperson Kersi K. Deboo and member Rinchen Lhamo held a two-hour meeting with representatives of the Buddhist Memba community in Mechukha. No representative from the Sikh community participated in the meeting, officials said. 

“We placed our grievances and highlighted the issues arising out of mixing a gurudwara with our historical site, Neh Pema Shelpu Drupkhang where Rinpoche Padmasambhava meditated,” Norbu Tsering Naksang, the president of Neh-Nang Cultural Development Society told The Hindu

The society represents the Memba community inhabiting large swathes of the Shi-Yomi district for centuries. 

“We are expecting a positive response from the commission and a peaceful solution to the issue,” he said. 

The NCM team also went for a site verification in the evening. The shrine is about 14 km from Mechukha, a subdivisional headquarters about 30 km from the nearest point of the Line of Actual Control dividing India and the Tibetan region of China. 

The controversy over the shrine surfaced a few weeks ago when the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) claimed that Buddhists had taken over the site associated with Guru Nanak Dev. Based on this claim, the NCM sought a detailed report from the Arunachal Pradesh government on April 24. 

The SGPC was seemingly offended by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu taking to social media after a visit to the shrine on April 8, saying he offered prayers and sought blessings from Guru Padmasambhava.   

Locals said the gurdwara came up after a Sikh Army officer posted there in the 1980s claimed it was where Guru Nanak had meditated. The locals also pointed out that the Army maintains the gurdwara because no Sikhs have ever settled in the area to look after it. EOM

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