Condemning the attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the BJP on Saturday (January 4) said that the incident justifies amendments made to the citizenship law to protect minorities in three neighbouring countries.
Addressing a conference here, BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said minorities in Pakistan have been subjected to threats for civil conversion, rapes and violence for decades and the Nankana incident shows how minorities there are persecuted and why they need citizenship in India.
Lekhi also said that this incident should open the eyes of Congress leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Navjot Singh Sidhu, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, the Leftists and the “urban Naxals” who have been opposing the amended Citizenship Act.
“Till now I haven’t heard anything from the Congress on the issue. I don’t know where Sidhu (Navjot Singh Sidhu) paaji has fled? If even after all this, he wants to hug ISI chief, then Congress should look into it,” she said.
Similarly, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri sought to know on Saturday whether those protesting across the country against CAA needed more evidence of the oppression of minorities in the neighbouring country.
Taking to Twitter, the Union housing and urban affairs minister said the violent mob that besieged the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara on Friday had threatened to change the name of the holy place to “Ghulam-e-Mustafa”.
Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, also known as Gurdwara Janam Asthan, is the site near Lahore in Pakistan where the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak, was born.
A violent mob had attacked the gurdwara and pelted it with stones on Friday. “The violent mob that besieged Nankana Sahib Gurudwara has threatened to change the name of our holy place to Ghulam-e-Mustafa.
“Do those who are opposing the CAA need more evidence of oppression of minorities in Pakistan,” Puri said in a tweet in Hindi, along with a video clip that showed a mob threatening to change the name of the gurdwara.
Murderous mob which laid siege to Sri Nankana Sahib has also threatened to change the name of this holiest of holy places to Ghulam-e-Mustafa.
Persecution of minorities in Pakistan is for real.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 4, 2020
Congress President Sonia Gandhi condemned the “unwarranted and unprovoked” attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan by an unruly mob.
Expressing dismay and concern over the matter, she called upon the Government of India to immediately take up the issue with Pakistani authorities to ensure safety of pilgrims and adequate security for the shrine to prevent any future attacks.
Reacting to Lekhi’s comment which was posted on Twitter, Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry termed her allegation of persecution of minorities in his country “fake propaganda”.
“Yes we know that and huge respects for our Sikh brethren but BJP spokesperson giving lectures on diversity and religious harmony is like pot calling the kettle black, you guys are most bigoted bunch of haters so stop fake propaganda.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had shared a video on his Twitter handle claiming that it was of police violence targeting Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. He captioned it “Indian police’s pogrom against Muslims in UP”.
Twitterati soon called out the Pakistan prime minister for tweeting fake news to target India. Later, the tweeted videos were deleted from his account.
Protests in Delhi, Punjab
Members the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Shiromani Akali Dal staged a protest near the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday over the mob attack on the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara.
According to the CAA, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in those nations, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but be given Indian citizenship.
Several Sikh organisations and the Shiv Sena Dogra Front (SSDF) staged separate protests in Jammu and parts of Punjab, including Amritsar, to condemn the mob attack on the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and the stone pelting on the pilgrims in Pakistan.
The protests were held in different parts of the city and Poonch district town with the participants chanting slogans against Pakistan and setting ablaze the effigies of Pakistan premier Imran Khan, officials said.
Hundreds of people thronged the streets leading to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi’s Chanakyapuri on Saturday and protested against the mob attack and stone-pelting on devotees at the historic Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, in Lahore.
The protesters carried banners and placards reading “Shame on Pakistan” and “We will expose the real face of Pakistan”. Some of the banners and placards urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect the gurdwara, one of the holiest sites in Sikhism.
“Double standard of Imran Khan, Sikhs are being tortured in Pakistan,” read one of the placards.
Police had to barricade the roads to prevent the protesters — belonging to BJP, Congress, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and other organisations — from reaching the High Commission.
Pakistan has rejected reports the gurdwara was desecrated, saying it remains “untouched and undamaged”.
The protest by DSGMC and Akali Dal members was held at around 1 pm near Chanakyapuri, an affluent neighbourhood and diplomatic enclave in the city. Sikh community members also submitted a memorandum to the Pakistan High Commission, said DSGMC president Manjinder S Sirsa.
BJP and Congress members stood on either side of a road there and raised slogans against Pakistan and its prime minister.
“It has not happened for the first time. They abduct our children and convert them. Pakistan should put an end to such incidents. We know how to respond,” Congress leader Krishna Tirath said.
Party leader Alka Lamba said India thanked Pakistan when the neighbouring country opened the doors for Indian Sikhs to visit the Kartarpur gurdwara on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
“Some anti-social elements attacked Nankana Sahib Gurdwara. We expect the Pakistan prime minister to break his silence on the incident,” she said.
“Yesterday, a mob of Jihadis attacked Nankana Sahib Gurdwara due to which our Sikh brothers and sisters are in terror. The CAA has been framed to save such minorities from persecution in Pakistan,” Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said.
He also took a political shot at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying the AAP chief has become “completely insensitive” in opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Kejriwal also deplored the mob attack on the gurdwara and said atrocities on Sikhs cannot be tolerated. “The attack on Nankana Sahib is a cowardly and shameful incident. Nankana Sahib is the centre of faith of crores of Sikhs. Atrocities on Sikhs living there cannot be tolerated,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Attack makes CAA imperative: VHP
Condemning the mob attack on the gurdwara, the VHP said such incidents were examples of ‘atrocities’ perpetrated on Hindus and Sikhs in the neighbouring country and a clear indication of the urgent need for implementation of the CAA.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad international secretary Milind Parande also referred to the reported abduction of the daughter of a ‘granthi’ (caretaker of the place of worship) and said the Centre should bring pressure on Pakistan government to stop such acts.
“…the attack has come right after Friday prayers in mosque and VHP appeals to the government of India and the UNHRC to take cognizance of this and pressure the Pakistan government to mend its way and return the Sikh girl,” he said.
These incidents were a standing example of the atrocities committed against the Hindu-Sikh minorities in the neighbouring nation and an indication of “urgent need” for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) “to protect persecuted Hindus, Sikhs and other communities living in Islamic countries,” he said.
(With input from agencies.)