Sikh community storms Parliament to protests against alleged desecration of their holy books

Published: May 23, 2014
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Protesting Sikh community members walk through the courtyard of the Parliament House on Friday after they had stormed its gate. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED/EXPRESS

Protesting Sikh community members walk through the courtyard of the Parliament House on Friday after they had stormed its gate. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED/EXPRESS

Protesting Sikh community members walk through the courtyard of the Parliament House on Friday after they had stormed its gate. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED/EXPRESS The protesters claimed that their religious sanctity had been violated as many as 7 times in the past few years. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED/ EXPRESS The protesters claimed that their religious sanctity had been violated as many as 7 times in the past few years. PHOTO: ONLINE The protesters claimed that their religious sanctity had been violated as many as 7 times in the past few years. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: After storming through the gates of Parliament House in protest of alleged desecration of their holy books in Sindh, Sikh protesters  presented five demands to the government.

The joint opposition in the Senate had been in the middle of a press conference when the protesters entered the premises by breaking through the gate, despite a heavy contingent of police personnel being present at the location. Taken aback by the demonstration, the senators abandoned the press conference and ran inside the building.

The protesters were also not deterred by tear gas shells and went on to present their demands to the government.

The members of the Sikh community said that their religious sanctity had been violated at least seven times in the past few years. The most recent incident they cited was the desecration of the Guru Grant Sahib, the central religious text of Sikhism, in Mirpur Mathelo , District Ghotki.

Upon learning more about the protests outside, Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bukhari asked the leader of the house to request the interior ministry to conduct an inquiry and submit a report by Monday.

Senator Heman Dass, who asked for the chair’s permission to address the issue,  said that he had submitted a call attention notice on this matter was not allowed to speak.

The Chairman Senate maintained that nobody was allowed to force their way into the premises of the Parliament in this manner.

The gates of the Parliament were closed for more than two hours as Senator Zafar Ali Shah, MNA Dr Darshan of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Senator Amajeet of the Awami  National Party (ANP) negotiated with a group of few dozen Sikh protesters.

The government subsequently decided that a 13-member committee of Sikhs would come forward with their demands, assuring them that the government would cooperate with them.

Senator Zafar Ali Shah then revealed that, upon forming the committee, the members of the Sikh community had apologised for entering the parliament in a violent manner.

He further added that the desecration of the holy text was an intolerable act.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq assured the 13-member Sikh committee that he would forward their demands to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

IG Sindh has also been informed about the concerns of the Sikh community.

Security breach

The incident was an eye-opener for the authorities whose claim of ‘tight-security’ in the red zone was refuted. It was also indicative of the consistent breach of rights of other religious factions in the country and their growing frustration.

There are approximately 20,000 adherents of Sikhism in Pakistan. Earlier in March this year, Sikh residents of Peshawar had protested against the killing of a Sikh hakim in Charsadda and the abduction of two others in DI Khan.

The Inspector General (IG) of Islamabad Police, Altaf Cheema, while speaking to the media accepted that it was a security breach for which the police was to be blamed. He also accepted that despite repeated calls by the Station House Officer (SHO) Bara Kaho, Sattar Shah no steps were taken to stop the protesters.

Police officials on duty stated that they did not take action against protestors as they did not receive any orders from the top officials .

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Reader Comments (62)

  • Pakistani
    May 23, 2014 - 12:48PM

    Very Saddening, situation in Pakistan is such that the Majorities aren’t safe never mind the minorities. A strange mixture of an uncivilized society, an incapable government, no state machinery and the home grown extremists coupled with international involvement. So many factors involved in the current state of the country, things can be turn around by just starting with justice for everyone.
    May Allah give us Hidaya. Ameen Sum Ameen.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    May 23, 2014 - 12:49PM

    Very Saddening, situation in Pakistan is such that the Majorities aren’t safe never mind the minorities. A strange mixture of an uncivilized society, an incapable government, no state machinery and the home grown extremists coupled with international involvement. So many factors involved in the current state of the country, things can be turn around by just starting with justice for everyone.
    May Allah give us Hidaya. Ameen Sum Ameen.

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 23, 2014 - 1:21PM

    Does this not fall under the blasphemy law…….or does hypocrisy restrict us to only apply it when Muslims are involved ?

    Recommend

  • MayorSL
    May 23, 2014 - 1:21PM

    Why does the article show Imran Khan being quoted on the subject? There’s a strange tendency of PTI/IK a lot more subtle-airtime on Express Tribune these days. That may also explain the founding ET team leaving their jobs.

    Recommend

  • AhsanAusaf Ali
    May 23, 2014 - 1:22PM

    very bad, even muslims should know Guru Nanak was actually a good person , many muslims even claim nanak himself was a muslim, , we need to respect everyone

    Recommend

  • Akbar
    May 23, 2014 - 1:24PM

    The Govt cannot protect its own buildings, mosques or Imambargahs cannot protect their own police stations or GHQ. What can you expect.

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  • Wali
    May 23, 2014 - 1:26PM

    Pakistan is becoming a less tolerant place by the day…. Where the overwhelming majority takes offence to the slightest and feels threatened over the slightest of question/issues – we have all the rights and use laws like blasphemy to protect ourselves but we lack the moral courage to respect minorities faith and their rights.

    Recommend

  • Roshan
    May 23, 2014 - 1:33PM

    A completely failed country, with stone-age mind….extremely failed because of religion And terrorism

    Recommend

  • Ahmed
    May 23, 2014 - 1:35PM

    @Pakistani:
    It is Hidayat not hidaya! We speak Urdu not Arabic.

    Recommend

  • Ahmed
    May 23, 2014 - 1:37PM

    @Pakistani:
    Your favor towards Arab (hidaya!) is part of the overall problem we are facing now.

    Recommend

  • ABKhan
    May 23, 2014 - 1:40PM

    Pakistan is becoming India for treating the minorities

    Recommend

  • Hassan
    May 23, 2014 - 1:45PM

    Makes me feel very ashamed

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  • goldconsumer
    May 23, 2014 - 1:50PM

    “All those guilty of violating the sanctity of places of worship and of targeting the minorities must be arrested and punished.”

    I thought the Policy was dialogue with such people Khan sahab?

    Recommend

  • Sikhs Migrate To India
    May 23, 2014 - 2:01PM

    Imran Khan tweeted “I call on all Pakistanis 2 show respect & tolerance 4 each other & 4 all places of worship.” and the next thing he notices people showing respect and tolerance of each other’s places of worship……..LOL !!!!!………..

    Recommend

  • SamSal
    May 23, 2014 - 2:11PM

    @AhsanAusaf Ali: I appreciate your feelings. Just don’t appreciate the way you played the ‘being muslim’ card. Regardless of what school of thought Guru Nanak followed, we MUST respect him and protect the divine figures of minorities!!

    Recommend

  • May 23, 2014 - 2:39PM

    Is this the invalidation of TNT?

    Hindus and Sikhs cannot live with the majority Muslims? Or, is it the other way around?Recommend

  • May 23, 2014 - 2:45PM

    @Ahmed:

    Pakistan’s first major language is Bengali. After 1971, it had to be Punjabi. But, Jinnah imposed Hindu/Urdu because Urdu(which is actually another dialect of Hindi) has a Muslim stamp. He thought Bengali was too close to the Hindu culture, but thought Urdu had a separate thing going on.

    He couldn’t speak Urdu that well, if he had he’d have known that Urdu and Hindi are the same languages. A colossal mistake!

    So, in a way, even Urdu is a part of your problem, since it directly led to the separation of the peaceful and culture-oriented Bangladeshis from Pakistan.Recommend

  • May 23, 2014 - 2:55PM

    @ABKhan:

    What minorities?

    From 20% at the time of Partition they account for 2%. The 2% will disappear in about 20 years.

    India just had a Sikh PM for 10 years. And, the % of Muslims has actually decreased.

    So, your comment doesn’t make any sense. Minorities can become PMs in India, while a minority has to sit in front of Parliament and demand people to respect him and his Religion.Recommend

  • sh(india)
    May 23, 2014 - 3:13PM

    Recently in india too there were riots between sikhs and muslims in my city hyderabad.

    Recommend

  • pent
    May 23, 2014 - 3:14PM

    this is islam and pakistan

    Recommend

  • MH
    May 23, 2014 - 3:26PM

    Another sad story in our failed state..

    Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    May 23, 2014 - 3:27PM

    @BruteForce:
    @ABKhan:

    They must have seen terrorists in the buildings? Was this not the reason given by the Indian born former military Governor for destroying the Red mosque. Imrran Khan with his statements is looking for a position in the judiciary now.

    Rex Minor

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  • May 23, 2014 - 3:48PM

    @MayorSL:
    It’s that IK remains the first usually in commenting so they quote him nothing wrong in that as he is the leader of a national party.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    May 23, 2014 - 3:57PM

    @Rex Minor

    I don’t get it if you’re being sarcy, but anyway I believe whatever happed in Lal masjid should not have happend however the Armed forces had no choice so I stand with the army. Man look their justification of backlash they demolished dozens of mosque in response killed thousand of civilians. Back in 2007 it looked like the capital is out of control govt. waited for like months for a breakthrough. What was that cache of arms doing in that mosque? and the way they started throwing acid at girls in Islamabad. Musharaf did the right thing. The fact is man simply can’t handle the truth. We just get emotional and get manipulated in the name of religion.

    Wasalam.

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  • Faisal Tahir
    May 23, 2014 - 4:05PM

    I wonder why Imran Khan remains quiet when ahmadiyya communitys places of worship are destroyed….

    Recommend

  • MAD
    May 23, 2014 - 4:24PM

    @MayorSL: Because he is the only top leader who bothered to condemn this incident. Im sure ET will publish statements of others also if they ever wake up.

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  • vasan
    May 23, 2014 - 4:33PM

    Rex Minor: I can see your hatred for India in mentioning “India born former dictator”. Remember he was brought up in Pakistan and picked by NS who himself was a protege of Zia who was also brought up pakistani. There should be a limit to your hatred for India. Unfortunately for you India is on a growth path and elected a growth oriented leader with a thumping majority and the smooth transfer of power on Monday. All these are only a night dream for your beloved pakistan. So enjoy while the sun burns

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  • Rex Minor
    May 23, 2014 - 5:25PM

    @vasan:
    lYour statement is faulty and simply reflects your emotions. Most countries in the world do not allow a foreign born citizen for the highest office in the country. Pakistan could have avoided the debacle that they went through during Mr Parvez rule who destroyed the fabric of all Pakistan constitutions.
    I am a foreign citizen and look upon Indians and Pakistanis of the similar stock, with more or less common ancestory. I have read about the destruction of sikh temples and mosques in India and now it is commencing in Pakistan. Fools are those who have witnessed the destruction of a mosque by a muslim army, and expect a protection from the authorities for non muslim places of worship.

    Rex Minor

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  • Mohan
    May 23, 2014 - 5:52PM

    I think all are suffering in Pakistan whether they are minorities(religion and sect) or Human rights groups. I am baffled why the government is inactive to take steps to stop such things from happening? I as an Indian is confused why so much mayhem in Pakistan? I don’t see anyone satisfied, I think Musharaff(Army) rule was better for Pakistan, though I dislike him for his Kargil misadventure against India, I feel democratic government(PPP/PMLN/PTI) are ineffective. I don’t know should I feel sorry for Nawaz Sharief or anger with him for his weakness.

    Recommend

  • Sobriquet
    May 23, 2014 - 5:53PM

    @BruteForce:
    Get your facts straight: In India the population of Muslims has increased and NOT decreased during the past 70 years.

    @Rex Minor:
    ALL Pakistanis born before 14th August 1947 were Indian-born, including your grandparents, your beloved Qaid-e Azam and Allama Iqbal. Don’t forget it and try to build an identity based on warmth instead of hatred.

    @AhsanAusaf Ali:
    Muslims have a habit of making tall claims such as Nanak being Muslim. This desire to feel superior cannot conceal your inferiority complex.

    Recommend

  • Kulwant Singh
    May 23, 2014 - 6:24PM

    @ABKhan:
    The Indian constitution gives equal rights to all religions as there is no religion of state. No Muslim migrated from Gujrat after Godhra riots and in Pakistan even majority community ie Muslims are living in refugee camps hence you wrong in comparing India with Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Sambhavah
    May 23, 2014 - 6:29PM

    @AhsanAusaf Ali:
    Agree with you a person just being born in a Muslim family doesn’t become a Muslim, A Muslim is a person who has morality and anyone having morality is a Muslim though born in other religions or being a atheist.

    Recommend

  • Naeem
    May 23, 2014 - 6:40PM

    The books were desecrated in darbars, where only sikhs and hindus had access. I wonder who dunnit?

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  • sher khan
    May 23, 2014 - 6:46PM

    The west funds the saudis who in turn fund their wahaabi salafi deobandi extremist ideologies to remove muslim moderates and sufi heart and soul of pakistan…

    So to remove the evil beast from pakistani nation all connections to saudi’s must be stopped religious, economic and political level…. and a pro-sufi peaceful co-existence policy in pakistan should be introduced so that pakistan does not become a failed state but a state that unifys all its people in brotherhood and progress’s in the modern world

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  • Vishal
    May 23, 2014 - 7:22PM

    Is it the same Pakistan where
    last week News anchors were
    discussing rise of extremism in
    India after Modi??
    Tell those News Anchors to Cool down the extrimism in ur country before thinking and giving lecture about India.

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    May 23, 2014 - 7:38PM

    @Roshan:

    yeah and india is doing really great on protecting its minorities. get out of here veggie boy.

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    May 23, 2014 - 7:40PM

    @BruteForce:

    yeah minorities can also get axed and hacked to death in india while the police watch the show and the CM of that state becomes the PM. great job.

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    May 23, 2014 - 7:43PM

    @Sobriquet:

    oh muslims have inferiority complex now? wow, i thought it was the hindus who were ruled by an outside minority for 500 years in their own country. or am i wrong?

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    May 23, 2014 - 7:43PM

    @Rex Minor:

    dont ever make this stupid comment about ‘india born’. he was and is a pakistani.

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  • csmann
    May 23, 2014 - 7:45PM

    Blasphemy law if not applied equally to the desecration of any and all religions is a farce.Laws are made to protect the minorities in the rest of the world.Only Pakistan is the exception,where Islam is considered to be in danger despite being 98% Muslim.Where are the Ulema now?

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  • Kolsat
    May 23, 2014 - 8:14PM

    @ABKhan: you are ignorant. India does not treat its minorities the way Pakistan and every Arab country does. A few days back in these pages so done was complaining about ill treatment given to Pakistani workers there. No member of Indian minorities leaves India to go another country as hundreds of Pakistanis do to come to Australia. India has always treated itS minorities well. That is why three of our Presidents have been Muslim and one Sikh.

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  • Timorlane
    May 23, 2014 - 8:15PM

    Thousands of Muslims have been killed, mosques and imam bargahs bombed by indian sponsored terrorists in Pakistan yet no one was ever allowed tread even a kilometer close to parliament and these people stormed right into it

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  • Kolsat
    May 23, 2014 - 8:18PM

    @Rex Minor: Almost all Pakistanis have ancestors who were born in India because Pakistan was carved out of India. Even Jinnah was born in India.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani
    May 23, 2014 - 8:24PM

    @BruteForce: why has India never had a Muslim prime minister?

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  • Deep
    May 23, 2014 - 9:43PM

    Good to know that Pakistanis actually care enough to acknowledge that it is a problem and shouldn’t happen again. In India most people wouldn’t care as its a “sikh issue” and nationalist indians would be celebrating desecration

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  • masood
    May 23, 2014 - 10:50PM

    It’s yet another shameful and heinous act of polarization. I am extremely sorry and ashamed that my state is so callous, indifferent and weak to take care of all its children be it Sikhs, Hindus, Ahmedis or Shia Muslim or any other Muslim. We are losing out very quickly or may already have lost it.

    Recommend

  • Ahmad
    May 23, 2014 - 10:57PM

    Very sad indeed..
    This reminds me Bulleh Shah..

    Parh Parh Kitaban Ilm Diyan Tu Naam Rakh Liya Qaazi,
    Hath Vich Pharh Ke Talvaar Tu Naam Rakh Liya Ghaazi,
    Makkay Madinay Ghoom Aaya Tay Tu Naam Rakh Liya Haaji,
    BULLAYIA! Haasil Ki Kita, Je Tu Yaar Na Rakhaya RAAZI…

    Recommend

  • May 23, 2014 - 11:02PM

    Before the Start of insurgency in Pakistan Minorities were never troubled accept for few incidents . But sadenly nowadays they are also targeted. But in any case this is the current situation of Pakistan no one is save not even Muslims.

    Secondly this has been going on for centuries in the Subcontinent . Even though alot of riots in India took place . But India is a big country with a large amount of minorities , any way we need to focus on our matters and i would like to see government taking preventive measures to protect minority groups and there places of worship and those who are responsible for these attacks should be punished.

    Recommend

  • Sam
    May 23, 2014 - 11:46PM

    If its true then its a very condemn-able act. I hope its not another case of a mentally challenged person disrespecting other faiths…maybe that is the root cause of all this

    Recommend

  • observer
    May 24, 2014 - 12:54AM

    Pakistanis raise a huge cry over the destruction of the Babri masjid but think nothing of the dozens of Hindu temples, gurudwaras, churches and Ahmadi places of worship that are desecrated or destroyed each year. Why is that?

    Recommend

  • Amna
    May 24, 2014 - 3:18AM

    BTW we have no Sikh Muslim riot in Pakistan, fellow sikh brothers have issues with Hindus in Sindh and they usually have scuffles with them.
    We all should learn to co exist Hindus Sikhs Christians they are all brothers and sisters to us.

    Recommend

  • water bottle
    May 24, 2014 - 5:48AM

    @Amna:

    Of course you don’t have Sikh Muslim riots in Pakistan. Because in case of a religious riot in Pakistan Muslims would annihilate the other.

    Pakistan prefers slow and silent genocide.Recommend

  • May 24, 2014 - 8:42AM

    @hamza khan:

    The same happens in a larger degree all over the world, especially in Islamic countries. This year started off with 200 Shias being murdered, NOT in India, but Pakistan.

    Seen that way India is safe for all Muslims, especially Ahmadis and Shias.

    Happy 2014!

    Recommend

  • May 24, 2014 - 8:46AM

    @Shakir Lakhani:

    Yes, power that is the only thing you care about, isn’t it.

    You don’t care that Muslims in India have a higher literacy rate than in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Or, that there is much less sectarian violence. Or, that they get to participate in a meaningful Democracy as equal stockholders.

    All you care about is a Muslim as a PM. One Muslim was a President. Does that count? I am sure you will say ‘No’. The Election Commission chief is a Muslim, I am sure does that not count either. Anything unless absolute power is not worthy of being mentioned, right?

    20 years ago, if anyone had told you that a Sikh can be PM of a 80% Hindu majority India, you would have scoffed. Look how things change.

    Recommend

  • PeaceMonger
    May 24, 2014 - 10:18AM

    Let’s see if blasphemy is applied against Muslims.

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    May 24, 2014 - 11:58AM

    What the safer and secure place Pakistan has been for the minorities,minorities’ holy books and worship’s places!How many times Pakistan’s weak,insecure and shameless policies regarding minorities and their worship places shall be disclosed/displayed before the world???Recommend

  • Bewildered
    May 24, 2014 - 5:09PM

    Imagine if Muslims have stormed the Indian parliament building? I’m sure none of them would’ve come out alive or on his own feet. In contrast, see the second picture where Sikh youth are laughing inside the Pakistani parliament building compound without any trace of fear, as security didn’t even touch them while they were breaking-in. This is what real freedom is.

    Recommend

  • Jay
    May 24, 2014 - 6:00PM

    Sikhs of Sindh should not forget that the (Hindu) Sindhi community that migrated to India has done extremely well for itself in business, government, education, IT, telecom, Defence, Intelligence etc. Many of its members (like those in the Arya Samaj community) have misused their money, power and position to play divisive politics amongst Muslims and Sikhs, to contaminate their respective religions, and to indulge in acts of genocide (for material, religious, political, research and territorial gains). Those Sindhis are also members of very big Zionist transnational corporations that have huge vested interests in creating, and keeping alive, Conflict.

    Recommend

  • Sehyr
    May 24, 2014 - 7:52PM

    For the record, the Sikhs are blaming the Hindus in Sindh for the desecration of their holy books.

    Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani
    May 25, 2014 - 11:36AM

    @BruteForce: What kind of democracy is practiced in India can be gauged by the fact that Muslims (comprising 15-20% of the population) have only 22 seats out of a total of 543 Lok Sabha seats (that’s just 4%!). Now you know why Muslims wanted a separate country for themselves!

    Recommend

  • Naeem
    May 27, 2014 - 12:12PM

    To all the idiots who without reading up on the backstory, and blaming muslims for this; The Sikhs are blaming the hindus for the desecration. Please read about a topic before giving your “expert opinions”.

    Recommend

  • sharabi
    Aug 6, 2014 - 2:51PM

    @ABKhan
    Hope that Pakistan follows the India(which is a very distant dream)

    Regards;
    A Minority person from your same Religion but with different ideology then yours.

    Recommend

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