Chandigarh: The Lahore district administration has refused to intervene in a dispute between the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the Singh Sabha over the arbitrary locking of the historic Taru Sahib Gurdwara located in the Shaheed Ganj, Naulokha locality in Lahore. The local District Magistrate and the police chief are openly supporting the decision of the Board.
The Sikh leadership in India has appealed to the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with the government of Pakistan and to protect the rights of minorities.
The ETPB of Pakistan enjoys a powerful position and the majority of its members are Muslims. The voice of a couple of Hindu and Sikh members does not make much difference to the decisions of the Board.
Taru Sahib Gurdwara existed since 1747 but the Muslims have been claiming that there was earlier a mosque at the place of the Gurdwara.
The ETPB of Pakistan shut down Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh declaring that it is a mosque. The ETPB looks after properties left behind by the Hindus and Sikhs as they migrated to India during the partition.
The controversy over the existence of the Gurdwara is very old and is believed to be a source of friction between the city’s few Sikhs and the Muslims.
The Gurdwara was constructed at a place where Sikh fighter Bhai Taru Singh was executed in 1745 by the Mughals. But prior to that Shaheed Ganj Mosque existed in the vicinity of the Gurdwara. The Gurdwara, built in 1747, and the mosque existed alongside each other with adjoining walls. But the mosque was demolished by a group of Sikhs in 1935, which led to communal riots. And since then Muslims are trying to either demolish the Gurdwara or convert it into a mosque.