M A I N   N E W S

Elahi promises to protect gurdwaras in Pakistan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
West Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi announced that the Government of Pakistan would not only remove encroachments from all Sikh shrines, it would also ensure preservation of each and every brick of the holy places. The original design of gurdwaras in Pakistan would be preserved while carrying out any renovation, he added.

He said Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had given the green light for bus service between Amritsar and Lahore for the convenience of Sikh pilgrims and now it was for the Government of India to reciprocate the gesture .

This announcement was made by him after receiving ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour) at the SGPC information office here today. Earlier, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, bestowed ‘Siropa’ on Elahi. He is the first Chief Minister of West Punjab to have been honoured with ‘Siropa’ by the SGPC .

However, the SGPC did not give ‘siropa’ to Capt Amarinder Singh as already announced by Bibi Jagir Kaur. Sensing this, Elahi took up another ‘Siropa’ and honoured his Indian counterpart.

He also promised to improve the diet menu of the Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, where many Sikh youths were languishing .

While welcoming Chaudhry Pervaiz and other dignitaries from Pakistan, Bibi Jagir Kaur tried to prove the supremacy of the SGPC over the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and other Sikh bodies of the world. She used harsh language in her speech which was not in good taste.

However, Chaudhry Elahi, in his soft-spoken style, ignored most of the demands of the SGPC chief, including handing over the ‘kar seva’ of Gurdwaras to the Shiromani Committee. She had raised serious objections as regards the authorising the Shiromani Akali Dal (New Delhi) to carry out ‘kar seva’ in certain Pakistani gurdwaras. Bibi Jagir Kaur had also said that the SGPC was the supreme body of the Sikhs which was being run under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. She had also stated that Sikhs could not tolerate any harm to their shrines.

She alleged that more than 70 per cent gurdwaras had faced encroachments which should be removed at the earliest. She urged Elahi to ensure 60 per cent quota of visas to the pilgrims who wanted to visit Pakistan through the SGPC.

Chaudhry Elahi ignored to touch many points raised by Bibi Jagir Kaur that included denying of visas to large number of pilgrims who had applied through the SGPC.

However, Chaudhry Elahi said the Government of Pakistan would simplify the procedure of granting visas to Sikh pilgrims . He said Nankana Sahib was being developed as a Model town where motels and hotels would be established on war-footing. He said Muslims had strong ties with Sikhism as Guru Granth Sahib had preserved the ‘Bani’ of Muslim Sufi saint Baba Farid .

The SGPC chief also presented memorandum to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi listing various demands of the Sikhs. She urged him to appoint Sikh caretakers in all gurdwaras there. The memorandum sought revival of the Nehru — Liakat Ali Pact which had allowed the SGPC to appoint granthis or caretakers in Pakistani gurdwaras. It stated that till 1998, the SGPC had been performing all these duties.


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