Pakistani Sikhs demand severe punishment for Nankana Sahib aggressors, anger rising among minorities

ISLAMABAD: Bitterness has once again emerged between the Muslims and Sikhs of Nankana Sahib after a Lahore court pronounced ‘mild’ sentence upon three Muslims who had instigated and led a frenzied all-Muslim mob to attack the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib – the birthplace of Sikh’s first master Guru Nanak Dev, in January 2020.

While the Sikhs under the aegis of the ‘Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’ have decided to challenge the ‘mild’ punishment given to the accused in the court, they have also filed a petition in the court for the annulment of the sentence.

On Friday, a meeting of prominent Sikh leadership of Pakistan including president of PSGPC Satwant Singh, former president Bishan Singh, Mastan Singh, Sikh leader Gopal Singh Chawala etc was held at Nankana Sahib during which they decided to initiate a nationwide movement to protest against the ‘mild’ punishment to the accused and also to challenge the court’s verdict.

Notably, on January 12, Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court sentenced three persons including Mohammad Imran for two years of imprisonment, his younger brother Salman and cousin Mohammad Ahmad Raza for six months of imprisonment each. 

The court, however, acquitted other four accused namely Mohammad Aslam, Adil Javed, Zulfiqr and Irfan in want of sufficient evidence against them. 

All of them were accused of attacking Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikh’s first master Guru Nanak Dev in January 2020. Satwant Singh informed media that there was much anger among the Sikhs for giving mild imprisonment to the persons who had dared to attack Sikh’s religious place. 

Earlier the Sikhs and Muslims of Nankana Sahib had come on verge of clash after Mohammad Imran’s younger brother Mohammad Hassan had allegedly abducted a Sikh girl of Nankana Sahib Jagjit Kaur, converted her into Islam, and forcibly married with her. 

Jagjit Kaur now Ayesha Bibi’s family had lodged a police complaint against the family members of Mohammad Hassan which resulted in strained relations between Sikhs and Muslims of Nankana Sahib who came on brink of the clash. 

As the issue snowballed into a major controversy Pakistan Punjab’s governor Chaudhary Mohammad Sarwar had to intervene to bring a truce between two families. Former president of PSGPC Mastan Singh said that they would seek at least ten years of imprisonment for all the accused.  

Gopal Singh Chawla while talking over the phone informed that members of the Sikh community in Pakistan are discussing the issue at the highest level and would take the next step.

On the other hand, Mohammad Sultan Sheikh, counsel for the accused informed that his clients would be filing a petition for overturning the sentence pronounced upon them by the court.

He said they had pleaded to the court that the investigation team (police) had failed to trace the unknown assailant and also claimed that the recoveries made by police were planted and urged the court to set aside the sentence awarded to the three accused and set them free.

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