Washington, DC – Sikhs all over the globe reacted with anger and disdain at the recent move by the Pakistani government of Imran Khan on Kartarpur Gurdwara management.
Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs took over the control of the Kartarpur Gurudwara from the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and handed it over to Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) ahead of the one-year anniversary of its opening this month in 2019.
Neena Gill CBE, Former European Member of Parliament from the United Kingdom told IAT: “Having visited Kartarpur sahib Gurdwara under a year ago, I am deeply disappointed with the developments at the Gurdwara in respect of its governing body PSGPC. There’s no justification cited by the Pakistani authorities to take away and control and the management away from PSGPC and pass it on to ETPB a largely Muslim body.”
“This is another example of lack of religious freedom in the country. It’s clear that the minority religions lack any significant rights and those that practice the minority religions are treated as third class citizens. I implore the State Authorities and PM Imran Khan to address this injustice,” added former MEP Gill.
Echoing general Sikh sentiments, Lord Rami Ranger, CBE, Chairman, the British Sikh Association told IAT, “I’m saddened by the decision taken by the government of Pakistan to take over the control of the management of the Sikh Gurdwaras throughout the country.”
As we all agree and understand Gurdwaras like other places of worship are respected and adorned as “Houses of God, “ those are central to our faith as are Mosques to Islam,” Lord Ranger said.
Arguing that the Kartarpur Gurdwara, held with the highest of reverence, should have its management under the local Sikh communities, Lord Ranger appealed to Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan “to reconsider his government’s decision and allow the public to manage their religious affairs according to their traditions.”
Speaking from Germany, Gurdeep Singh Randhawa, Member of CDU Germany and Elected Council member in Amt Wachsenburg, expressed disappointment “with this decision of Pakistani government.”
“Direct interference in Sikh religion from outside would never be allowed and accepted. Big show on November 9 was only to clear the bad image towards the rest of the world to claim that they are not against any minorities living in Pakistan. Now this is very much clear that the Kartarpur Corridor was opened only for this purpose,” said Randhawa without mincing words, adding, “Sikhs all over the world condemn this cunning idea from the Pakistan Government.”
Speaking to IAT, Harjit Singh Hundal, General Secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal in the USA expressed outrage over the decision by Islamabad alleging, “To hand over to an agency arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan, is unfortunate.
“Sikhs do not accept this body as not even one Sikh is included in it,” said Hundal adding, “The charge should be handed to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), which has Sikh members and who know how to maintain the sanctity of the Sikh faith.” Hundal said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) requests “Pakistani government to hand over the responsibilities back to PSGPC.”
Sukhi Chahal, Founder, President of the Khalsa Today in Silicon Valley, California, lambasted “appointment of all Muslim nine members Management Body by the Imran Khan’s tyrannical government to fully control Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara,” calling it, “another attempt to demean non-Muslims living in Pakistan.”
Chahal urged Sikhs to express their opposition saying, “Leaving their parochial views, all Sikhs must unite to register their protests starting by all possible means.”
The Indian Government statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called it “unilateral decision by Pakistan” and labeled it “highly condemnable and runs against the spirit of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as also the religious sentiments of the Sikh community at large.”
MEA called upon Islamabad “to reverse its arbitrary decision to deprive the Sikh minority community its right to manage affairs of the Holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.”
There is, however another group of Sikhs who have a different take on the subject. Balwinder Singh Chatha, Member, World Sikh Parliament, USA in a statement told IAT: “This is all Indian government’s false propaganda. No one took control of Pakistan sikh gurdwara, gurdwaras are very well run by Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandak Committee. This is Indian government and Hindutwa condemnable propaganda, they don’t want Sikhs and Muslims and Pakistan government to have good relationships with Sikhs.”
Without mincing words, Chatha cautioned the Indian Government saying, “We warn Indian government Hindutwa and their rental Sikhs like Manjinder Sirsa to get out of Sikh matters in Pakistan. Manjinder Sirsa, Akali dal and some other touts juti chat you make sikhs in India slaves. We warn all of you to get out of Sikh matters. Kartarpur corridor is closed since March, you open your mouth about that when all other Hindu places are open. Badal jamure Sirsa and other rental Sikhs and Indian government agencies, Hindutwa Sirsa get out of Sikh matters in Pakistan.”
The World Sikh Parliament (WSP) is a self-styled governing body of the Sikhs, supporting the formation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh nation.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, one of the holiest shrines for the Sikhs, was opened to international visitors including Indian pilgrims through the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, a 4.7 kilometre-long passage. The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated last year between Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur.