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S Asia Gilani Grants Sikh Wishes


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
LAHORE: A delegation of Sikh representatives met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday and presented him with a list of their demands.

The prime minister reiterated his government’s commitment to protecting the rights of minorities and women. Indian Sikh leader Sardar Swinder Singh complained to the PM stating the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had sold land belonging to the Gurdwara Ramdas at Choona Mandi. Singh said that the construction of a plaza on the plot of land had already started.

“In the Sikh religion, the land of any gurdwara is never sold and only another gurdwara can be built on the land,” Singh said.

Gilani immediately asked ETPB chairperson Asif Hashmi to stop construction on the proposed plaza and assured the Sikh community that the land would be restored to them.

Sardar Swinder Singh also told the prime minister that some influential locals had encroached upon the land of Gurdwara Bhai Taro Singh at Naulakha Bazaar. The PM assured him that the land would be re-possessed and returned to the original owners. Asif Hashmi informed the PM that some clerics had occupied the gurdwara’s land and that he would try to resolve the matter amicably.

Singh said that PM has assured him that all gurdwaras in Pakistan would be made functional. He also asked the PM to allow members of the Sikh community to celebrate all their religious events in Pakistan.

He said that the PM had assured the delegation all efforts would be made to grant this wish. Prime Minister Gilani told the Sikh community that if India granted Pakistan permission to establish a counsulate at Amritsar the Sikh community would get visas for Pakistan more easily.

Singh demanded that visas be issued to all Sikhs’ whose passports said that they were born in ‘undivided India’. Gilani asked ETPB’s chairman Asif Hashmi to ensure that Sikhs who were born in Pakistan before partition were issued visas on a priority basis. The Sikh community’s demand to be provided residence in Lahore was accepted by the PM.

Dr Manmohan Singh of Dal Khalsa of UK, Dr Pritpal Singh of USA, ETPB’s additional secretary, PSGPC’s president Sardar Sham Singh and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti also met with the prime minister.

“The government believes in promoting inter-faith harmony and the relations between the Sikh and the Muslim communities in Pakistan are a very good representative of our commitment,” Gilani said.




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