Video Causes Row Between India & Pakistan

  • A man is depicted using insulting language against the Sikh community and some of its leaders in Pakistan.
  • The incident has been met with grave concern in India, and justice has been appealed to the minority Sikh community in Pakistan.
  • "This video is against the policy of the government of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan's ideology of minority rights and brotherhood and it is an individual act."

India has strongly protested to the High Commission of Pakistan regarding the Gurudwara Shaheed Asthan Bhai Taro Ji, a holy place of Sikhism in Lahore’s Naw Lakha Bazaar. The protest came after a controversial video of a local man went viral, using derogatory language against the Sikh community in Pakistan.

Sikhism in Pakistan has an extensive heritage and history, although Sikhs form a small community in Pakistan today. Most Sikhs live in the province of Punjab, a part of the larger Punjab region where the religion originated in the Middle Ages, with some also residing in Peshawar in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The controversial video of Gurudwara Shahidi Asthan Bhai Naoroji in Lahore’s Nolakha Bazaar, circulating on social media, depicts a local man using insulting language against the Sikh community and some of its leaders in Pakistan.

In the video, an unidentified man is asking questions, and in response, the local man is alleging that the Sikh community intends to illegally occupy a plot of land adjacent to a mosque while there is no evidence that the land belonged to a Sikh Gurdwara.

The video refers to the land attached to the historic Gurudwara Shahidi Isthan Bhai Taro Ji near Linda Bazaar behind Nolakha Bazaar. It is a sacred place for the Sikh community. Brother Taroji was killed at the same place in 1745.

The controversial video claims that the “land belongs to the mosque and is reserved for the madrassa.” The Sikh community says the dispute is over land acquisition, which is owned by the gurdwara, according to the Abandoned Waqf Property Board.

India’s “Concern”

Anurag Srivastava, the spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said in response to a question from the Indian media regarding the Gurudwara Shahidi Asthan that the incident had been strongly protested by the Pakistan High Commission.

The incident has been met with grave concern in India, and justice has been appealed to the minority Sikh community in Pakistan. Anurag Srivastava added, “India has expressed its strong reservations over the incident and called on Pakistan to investigate the matter and resolve it immediately.”

The Reaction of the Sikh Community

A gurdwara (“door to the guru”) is a place of assembly and worship for Sikhs. People from all faiths are welcomed in Sikh gurdwaras.

In a video message posted on Facebook, Satwant Singh, president of the Sikh Gurdwara Bandhak Committee in Pakistan, said that “Sikhs all over the world are sad and miserable” over the incident.

“This video is against the policy of the government of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ideology of minority rights and brotherhood and it is an individual act,” he added. “It’s really a matter of land grabbing,” Satwant Singh said.

He further said that there is a plot attached to the shrine which is owned by the “Martyr’s Place” of the Sikh community. “But some people are planning to take over the land. We will not tolerate it, but we also think that if we react, it could harm the Sikh-Muslim brotherhood in the country.”

Satwant Singh said that he has spoken to the chairman of the Abandoned Waqf Property Board and he is also in touch with other institutions. He added that the Sikh community would stand up against those who were trying to sabotage the Prime Minister’s views on minorities and undermine the harmony and friendship between Muslims and Sikhs. He added:

“We must keep in mind the efforts of the state of Pakistan and its institutions. The video was made by an individual. We can deal with that individual but it is against our values. Instead of taking matters into their own hands, we want the state institutions to handle and resolve the issue of the Sikh community.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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