Sikh leaders angry over Pak girl’s forced conversion; SGPC to seek UN help

Arjun Sharma | Sep 1, 2019 | 3 min read


As media reports of a Sikh girl being kidnapped and forcefully converted in Pakistan surfaced, several Sikh organisations and leaders have attacked Pakistan over its treatment of minorities. The fact that it took place in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, has only added to the anger of Sikhs.

Amarjit Singh Tikka, the Indian coordinator for United Sikh Mission (a US-based NGO that pushed for construction of Kartarpur corridor), highlighted that while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has portrayed himself as a friend of the Sikh community, such incidents indicate otherwise. 

He revealed that PM Khan was the person who accepted the demand for Kartarpur. However, such incidents, where Sikh girls are kidnapped and converted to Islam in Pakistan, are against the stand taken by Imran Khan, he stated. 

Tikka asserted that such incidents will not present a negative picture of Pakistan, which Sikhs see as the country of the birthplace of their first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev. 

The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the body responsible for the management of Gurudwaras in few states of India, has decided to approach the United Nations (UN) against forced conversions of minorities in Pakistan. 

SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal told 101Reporters that the Sikh body is planning to write to the UN regarding the issue. He revealed that this is not the first time when such an incident has taken place and in the past, many forced conversions have come to light where Sikh girls were forcibly married to Muslim men.

He informed that the SGPC was also in talks with the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had appealed to the Indian government to take a stand in this regard. “We hope that ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November, such incidents that shake the confidence of a community don’t take place in Pakistan,” remarked Longowal.

"The incident has taken place at such a place which is very close to the hearts of every Sikh across the world," he stated.

Even the Sikh hardliners and pro-Khalistan organisations, who had sided with Pakistan in the past, have criticised the government.

President of the radical group Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann stated that the Pakistan government and PM Khan should take special care of Sikh minorities living in the country. He revealed that a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was also vandalised in Lahore recently. Such incidents are not positive signs for the minority community in Pakistan, highlighted Mann.

President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Manjinder Singh Sirsa, in a tweet, said, “I urge @narendramodi ji and & @DrSJaishankar Ji to raise this issue at global level bcos forced conversions happening in Pakistan have angered all the Sikhs.”

Addressing a press conference on Friday, chairman of the state Gurdwara Prabandhak Board Tarlochan Singh Wazir termed the incident as shocking and urged the Indian government to take up the issue with the Pakistan government.

He stated that the incident has shocked the Sikh community living across the world at a time when the community is celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev this year.

Sikh leaders have also threatened to boycott the International Sikh Convention in Lahore.

In a video message, Sardar Gurcharan Singh, a Candian Sikh leader, revealed that they had come to Pakistan for the convention and such incidents would be opposed by the Sikh community. 

He also asserted that if the girl doesn’t return safely to her family, they would boycott the convention.

Pakistan's Punjab government constituted a high-level committee to negotiate with Sikhs angry over the abduction and forced conversion of a teenage girl from the community, reported PTI.

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