New Delhi, January 4: Leaders cutting across party lines and various outfits on Saturday condemned the mob attack on the historic Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Lahore, terming it as “cowardly” and “shameful”, while hundreds of protesters thronged the streets near the Pakistan High Commission here demanding that the neighbouring country provide adequate security to Sikh shrines and community members there.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body which manages Sikh shrines in India, said it will send a four-member delegation to Pakistan to take stock of the situation and urged the Pakistan government to take stringent action against the culprits who attacked the gurdwara — birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev and one of the holiest sites in Sikhism.
BJP leaders and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that the incident has proved once again that the government was right in bringing the Citizenship Amendment Act for giving citizenship to members of minority communities who have come to India before 2015 to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
In the national capital, police barricaded the roads to prevent protesters – belonging to the BJP, Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and other organisations – from reaching the Pakistan High Commission.
The protesters carried banners and placards reading “Shame on Pakistan” and “Double standard of Imran Khan, Sikhs are being tortured in Pakistan”. Some urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect the gurdwara.
A huge posse of police personnel was deployed the protestors were stopped near Chanakyapuri police station in the diplomatic enclave. BJP and Congress members stood on either side of a road and raised slogans against Pakistan and its prime minister.
Sikh community members also submitted a memorandum to the Pakistan High Commission, said DSGMC president Manjinder S Sirsa.
Several Sikh and Dogra organisations held separate protests in Jammu and Poonch against the incident.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi deplored the “unprovoked” attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and called upon the government to immediately take up the issue with Pakistani authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims and adequate security for the shrine to prevent any future attacks.
“The Government of India should also press for immediate registration of case, arrest and action against the culprits,” she said in a statement.
Party leader Rahul Gandhi termed it as a reprehensible incident and said bigotry is a dangerous, age-old poison that knows no borders. Taking to Twitter, he said the only known antidote to bigotry is love, mutual respect and understanding.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said such incidents cannot be tolerated and requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise the issue with Pakistan to ensure the security of Sikhs in the neighbouring country.
Wondering if there was “any law and order” in Pakistan, he said that earlier a Sikh girl was abducted there and now this attack on the gurdwara established that there was a threat to minorities in the neighbouring country.
Union minister and party leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the incident exposes the “true face” of Pakistan where “persecution of minorities is a reality”.
Addressing a conference here, BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said minorities in Pakistan have been subjected to threats for civil conversion, rapes and violence for decades and the Nankana incident shows how minorities there are persecuted and why they need citizenship in India.
Lekhi also said that this incident should open the eyes of Congress leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Navjot Singh Sidhu, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Leftist leaders and the “urban Naxals” who have been opposing the amended Citizenship Act.
Lekhi and Pakistani minister Fawad Chaudhry were also involved in Twitter spat over the issue of mob attack on the shrine.
Reacting to Lekhi’s comment, the Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology tweeted, “…BJP spokesperson giving lectures on diversity and religious harmony is like pot calling the kettle black, you guys are most bigoted bunch of haters so stop fake propaganda.”
Lekhi hit back immediately saying Chaudhry should “take charge” of initiating action against those involved in the incident and also “stop conversions, rape and abductions taking place in Pakistan”.
“Yesterday, a mob of Jihadis attacked Nankana Sahib Gurdwara due to which our Sikh brothers and sisters are in terror. The CAA has been framed to save such minorities from persecution in Pakistan,” Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri sought to know if those protesting against the CAA needed more evidence of oppression of minorities in the neighbouring country.
“The violent mob that besieged Nankana Sahib Gurudwara has threatened to change the name of our holy place to Ghulam-e-Mustafa.
“Do those who are opposing the CAA need more evidence of oppression of minorities in Pakistan,” Puri tweeted in Hindi, along with a video clip.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said atrocities on Sikhs cannot be tolerated. “The attack on Nankana Sahib is a cowardly and shameful incident. Nankana Sahib is the centre of faith of crores of Sikhs. Atrocities on Sikhs living there cannot be tolerated,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
The National Conference also denounced the attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, describing it as “most reprehensible”.
On Friday, the External Affairs Ministry condemned the “wanton acts of destruction and desecration” at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and urged Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure safety and welfare of the Sikh community.
It also said that members of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan have been subjected to acts of violence in the holy city of Nankana Sahib.
Pakistan has rejected reports the gurdwara was desecrated, saying it remains “untouched and undamaged”.
Reports suggested that hundreds of angry residents at Nankana Sahib had pelted stones on Sikh pilgrims.
SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the sentiments of the Sikh community were hurt. “We have spoken with the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib management committee…they told us the situation is normal now,” he said.
“We will send a four-member delegation to Pakistan to take stock of the situation there,” he said, adding that the delegation would also meet Sikh families in Nankana Sahib as well as the governor and the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The VHP said such incidents were examples of “atrocities” perpetrated on Hindus and Sikhs in the neighbouring country and a clear indication of the urgent need for implementation of the CAA.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad international secretary Milind Parande also referred to the reported abduction of the daughter of a ‘granthi’ (caretaker of the place of worship) and said the Centre should bring pressure on Pakistan government to stop such acts.
“… the attack has come right after Friday prayers in mosque and VHP appeals to the government of India and the UNHRC to take cognizance of this and pressure the Pakistan government to mend its way and return the Sikh girl,” he told reporters here. (PTI)