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Bridging the communal divide in India

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
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    Bridging the communal divide in India

    * Sikhs rebuild mosque, hand it over to Muslims
    * Efforts underway in Indian Punjab to restore communal harmony

    By Iftikhar Gilani - THE DAILY TIMES, Pakistan

    NEW DELHI: Exhibiting communal camaraderie of the highest degree, the Sikh community in the Indian Punjab rebuild an old mosque demolished in 1947 and handed it over to Muslims last week.

    According to the fortnightly Milli Gazette, the mosque is situated in Sarwarpur village, 10 kilometres from Sadat Hasan Manto’s birthplace in Samrala town.

    Local Sikh community handed over the keys to the elderly Muslim of the village at a ceremony attended by the Shiromani Gurdawara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) representative, local lawmakers and the Shahi Imam of Punjab, Maulana Habibur Rahma Sani Ludhianwi. Ludhianwi congratulated the Sikh community for their magnanimity and said it was “a slap on the face of communalists”.

    Earlier in March, the Sikh community had handed over another mosque to Muslims which was being used as a Gurdwara for the past 60 years in Gurdaspur district on the banks of Beas River. Known as ‘Guru-ki-maseet’, the mosque is believed to have been built by Sikh Guru Hargobind Singh 370 years ago.

    According to the Sikh tradition, the Guru had converted the house of a Muslim man, who had passed away, into a mosque and started providing free meals to the poor there. But after 1947, Sikhs converted it into a Gurdwara.

    A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has now been signed by the Nihangs, the Sikh caretakers of the mosque, and the Punjab Waqf Board. Board Administrator Dr Mohammad Rizwanul Haque described the MoU as an event that would pave the way for strengthening communal harmony in the area.

    According to the MoU, the Taruna Dal, a sect of Nihangs, will conserve and manage the historic mosque and allow Muslims to offer their prayers there.

    “For over 60-years, this mosque has been maintained by the Nihangs as it was abandoned at the time of the Partition,” said Haque. The mosque had been in disrepair for a long time and has been restored.

    While Sikhs offered their labour, Muslim masons repaired the walls and an all-women team of restorers lent its expertise to the task.

    Last year, Sikhs of Chahar Mazra village in Ropar district had also built a mosque for their Muslim neighbours for prayers. After 1947, just 15 poor Muslim households were left in the village, who could not afford to build a mosque.

    source: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\06\05\story_5-6-2010_pg7_21
     
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