India expresses concern over vandalisation of Ranjit Singh’s statue in Pakistan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India expresses concern over vandalisation of Ranjit Singh’s statue in Pakistan

Aug 17, 2021 10:48 PM IST

This was the third time the statue, located in a high-security area, was vandalised since it was unveiled in 2019.

India on Tuesday expressed concern at the vandalization of a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore, saying incidents of violence against Pakistan’s minorities are increasing at an “alarming rate”.

The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which was vandalised in Lahore on Tuesday. (File photo)
The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which was vandalised in Lahore on Tuesday. (File photo)

According to reports from Lahore, a member of the radical group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, vandalised the statue located within the Lahore Fort complex. Police detained the man allegedly responsible for the act after he was held by people in the area.

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This was the third time the statue, located in a high-security area, was vandalised since it was unveiled in 2019.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi described the incident as “disturbing” and said, “Such attacks on the cultural heritage of minority communities in Pakistan highlight the growing intolerance and lack of respect for minority communities in Pakistani society.”

He added, “Incidents of violence against minority communities, including attacks on their places of worship, their cultural heritage, as well as their private property, are increasing at an alarming rate.”

Bagchi noted that just 12 days ago, a mob attacked and desecrated a Hindu temple at Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan.

“The Pakistani state has completely failed in its duty to prevent such attacks. This is creating a climate of fear for the minority communities to practice their faith,” he said.

“We call upon the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities,” Bagchi added.

The nine-foot bronze statue was unveiled in June 2019 to mark the 180th death anniversary of Ranjit Singh, the first Maharaja of the Sikh empire who ruled over Punjab for close to 40 years.

The statue shows Ranjit Singh sitting on a horse in regal attire, sword in hand. Just two months after its unveiling, the statue was vandalised by two members of Tehreek-e-Labbaik. Both men were arrested by police.

Video footage of Tuesday’s incident showed a man tearing an arm off the statue and then removing it from atop the horse and hurling it to the ground.

The incident was condemned by several Pakistani leaders, including information minister Fawad Chaudhry.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), also strongly condemned the demolition of the statue on Tuesday.

In a statement, she said that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Sikh king in whose kingdom all had equal rights and there was no discrimination against anyone. She said the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was based on the principles of the Sikh Gurus which included social equality and religious freedom for all.

“Apart from Sikhs, the officials of other religions were also appointed at Maharaja Ranjit Singh's court. He had great respect for other religions and got the work done as per their requirements,” she said.

The SGPC president said Maharaja Ranjit Singh was one of the select rulers of the world who did great deeds for the welfare of mankind.

"Demolishing the statue of a world-renowned Sikh ruler and expressing hatred was an act against humanitarian concerns. I appeal to the government of Pakistan to take stern action against those responsible for desecrating the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh so that no such heinous act is committed again," she added.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa said in a social media post, "Pakistan’s radicals try once again to hurt Sikh sentiments by vandalising Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue. Earlier it was Khadim Hussain Rizvi who spoke ill about Maharaja Ranjit Singh and now his party people do such hateful things. I hope @ImranKhanPTI would take stern action against the culprits to ensure religious harmony in Pak".

"I have apprised Jt Secretary, Min of External Affairs (PAI) Mr JP Singh about this incident who has assured me that he would take up this matter with Pak High Commission and ask them to take a strict action to curb such hateful vandalising events," he added.

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