The persecution of religious minorities including Hindus and Sikhs is not a new phenomenon in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Religious persecution and forced conversion continue unabated in the terror state of Pakistan. Despite repeated appeals by the Indian government, the Pakistani government has been doing little to save its religious minorities from the atrocities being meted out at them almost every other day.
Persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan
Last month, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that despite restraining orders issued by a senior civil judge of Bahawalpur bench, the local authorities levelled 25 houses and partly demolished another 10 houses belonging to Hindus, leaving the occupants including women and children homeless. Around the same time, 102 Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam in the Golarchi district which falls under the Badin district of Sindh province, Pakistan. Earlier, a radical extremist was seen dismantling the temporary boundary wall of the new Sri Krishna temple in Islamabad. .Huma Younus, a Christian girl who was kidnapped from her home in Karachi on October 10 last year, has become pregnant due to the incessant sexual violence perpetrated by her abductor Abdul Jabbar.
Attempt to convert Gurdwara to mosque
Recently, a Maulvi named Sohail Bhatt Attari reportedly took control of the land of Gurdwara Shahidi Asthan, the site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singhji, in Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore. The Maulvi who is the caretaker of Hazrat Shah Kaku Chishti Dargah encroached upon the land with the help of locals. Sohail, in a video, claimed that the land on which Gurudwara stands belongs to Hazrat Shah Kaku Chishti Dargah and Shaheedganj Masjid. As per reports, attempts are now being made to convert the Gurdwara into a mosque.
As per reports, Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has taken cognisance of the protests and has asked the Lahore police to take ‘strict action’ against the maulvi named Sohail Bhatt Attari who has been provoking locals against the historic Gurudwara. Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson, External Affairs Ministry, said on Monday that India had lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the issue.
Captain Amarinder Singh expresses his concern
Days after the Maulvi encroached upon the land of the historic Gurudwara Sri Shahidi Asthan in a bid to convert it into a mosque in the eastern city of Lahore, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged Ministry of External Affairs to intervene and convey the concerns of Punjab to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to protect places of worship sacred to the Sikh community.
Singh tweeted, “Strongly condemn attempts being made to convert holy Gurdwara Sri Shahidi Asthan in Lahore, site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh Ji, into a Mosque. Urge Dr S Jaishankar to convey Punjab’s concerns in strongest terms to Pakistan to safeguard all Sikh places of reverence.”
Strongly condemn attempts being made to convert holy Gurdwara Sri Shahidi Asthan in Lahore, site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh Ji, into mosque. Urge @DrSJaishankar to convey Punjab’s concerns in strongest terms to Pakistan to safeguard all Sikh places of reverence.— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) July 28, 2020
Captain Amarinder Singh lost moral ground
While concerns raised by Captain Amarinder Singh are not unfounded, it must be remembered that he was amongst those politicians who opposed the humanitarian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019. The law seeks to fast track citizenship of persecuted minorities who fled from the Islamic majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to avoid torture and harassment.
Despite being well-aware of the treatment meted out to religious minorities in the neighbouring Islamic nations, the ace Congress politician opposed the CAA. “You want to change the secular fabric of the country. We want to break brotherhood merely for politics. Clearly, no lessons have been learnt from history,” he was quoted as saying. He had said that the ongoing situation in India was similar to the one witnessed in Germany during the 1930s under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Opposing the act tooth-and-nail, the Punjab Congress government had even passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state assembly.
By doing so, Captain Amarinder Singh has lost the moral high ground to ask the Indian government to intervene and talk to Pakistan whenever instances of religious discrimination and persecution of Sikhs come to light. It is indeed hypocritical for a politician to be vocal against law designed to help persecuted minorities on one hand and simultaneously asking the central govt to intervene to ensure their protection.
Moreover, the government of India has already lodged a protest with the Pakistani authorities, condemning and sharply criticising the attempts to convert the Gurudwara into a Mosque.
Punjab CM had exposed his hypocrisy during the Afghanistan Gurudwara attack too
It is not the first time that the Punjab CM had exposed his hypocrisy over the issue of Sikhs facing religious persecution in Islamic countries. Earlier in March, when Islamic terrorists had attacked a Gurudwara in Kabul’s Shor Bazar area, killing 28 and injuring 15 others, Amarinder Singh had urged MEA S Jaishankar to make arrangements to ‘airlift’ the Sikh families living under threat in Afghanistan.
It is indeed remarkable how conveniently the Punjab CM has highlighted the plight of Sikhs in Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain political mileage, but when the Indian government was bringing a landmark law that will provide real, practical help to the persecuted minorities, including Sikhs in those countries, Amarinder Singh had instead chosen to appease his political masters and had opposed the CAA.