Barring of Sikhs from a gurudwara in Lahore is scandalous and a violation of fundamental rights, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the HRCP said: “While extremist elements barring religious minorities from their worship places in Pakistan no longer surprises anyone,” the authority’s decision is “scandalous”.
Around four years ago, a group of young Muslim men had claimed that the gurudwara was built on the site of the burial place of a Muslim saint. The Evacuee Trust Property Board had allowed both communities to observe their religious rituals according to their own beliefs at the gurudwara. But, on July 16, police deployed outside the gurudwara prevented the Sikhs from congregating to commemorate an eighteenth-century saint because Shab-e-Barat was to be observed two days later.
“Police deployment to prevent the congregation at the gurudwara was shocking, ill-advised and entirely uncalled for,” the statement says. The governing authority has “no right to ask members of a religious faith to postpone rituals of their faith inside their places of worship or to give precedence to religious rituals of one faith over another.”
Meanwhile, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir has strongly urged the Punjab government and the provincial chief minister to take prompt notice of the incident.
“The Quaid-e-Azam stressed on the rights of minorities and all minorities in Pakistan have the right to exercise religious freedom,” said Jahangir. “The historical temple has been in place for over a century and the Sikh community has been practising their religious rights here.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.