A statue of 19th-century Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore, Pakistan was vandalised on Friday by a teenager, Zaheer, and his companions. This was the second time the statue has been vandalised after being unveiled last year on the occasion of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s 180th death anniversary.
The nine-foot-tall statue of Singh, who died in 1839, was unveiled in June on his 180th death anniversary. The statue, made of cold bronze, shows the emperor sitting on a horse, and carrying a sword. Popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled over the Sikh empire in the early half of the 19th century. With its capital at Lahore, this empire spanned over a region which included almost half of modern-day Pakistan.
Last year, barely months after its unveiling, the statue was vandalised by two men, Adnan Mughal and Asad, allegedly to protest the Bharatiya government’s decision to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
In January this year, a Pakistani mob had pelted stones and desecrated the holy Gurudwara of Nankana Sahib, birth place of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh Dharma panth. That attack took place to intimidate local Sikhs who had protested the abduction and forced conversion of the daughter of a granthi (reader of Sikh scripture).
Most Sikhs in Pakistan are concentrated near Peshawar, a town in KP province, where they have have been subject to targeted killings forcing many to migrate to Bharat. Encroachment of Sikh Gurdwaras and Hindu temples under various pretences is a common affair in Pakistan. In one case, the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) had to come to the rescue of an ancient Gurudwara in Mirpur Khas, Sindh which was in the clutches of the Islamist land mafia.
Pakistan has been trying to improve its international image through the much touted Kartarpur corridor project. But even that attempt appears to be falling flat, as its recent decision to handover Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, for management and maintenance, from Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) to the notorious Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) shows.
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