SHIKARPUR/KARACHI: A huge rift over the alleged desecration of a holy book was averted in Shikarpur after two groups belonging to the Hindu and Sikh minorities reached a compromise.
However, the Sikhs, who are a smaller minority in Shikarpur, reported being threatened by local Hindus in the area.
The incident caused an uproar after Sikh students shared pictures of a recently held four-day mela (festival) in Jai Samadha Ashram in Shikarpur where the head of the Hindu temple was seen holding the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy book of Sikhs) bare-headed.
But in others, he was photographed drawing signs and symbols on the holy book.
The temple, housing both Geeta and Guru Granth Sahib for decades, is the most frequented place of worship for both religious communities.
In the pictures that circulated on social networking site Facebook, the head of the temple, Swami Saeen Narayan Bhajan, a young man in his late 20s, is seen signing the scripture after drawing a symbol belonging to the Hindu faith.
Within an hour, the pictures created a furor among Sikh residents in the area, who then contacted their local representatives. Eventually, the pictures reached the chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Council, Sardar Ramesh Singh, who led a 22-member team to Shikarpur to sort out the matter.
“Young men were ready to fight and kill each other if we hadn't reached in time,” he narrated while giving an interview on phone.
Singh, who was shown the pictures, said “coloured pen was used to create drawings of Hindu God Ganesha on a few pages” which angered many in the community.
The matter was resolved after Swami Narayan Bhajan admitted his mistake and apologised to the community elders, adding that he did not intend any disrespect.
Tara Singh, head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdhwara Prabandhak (Managing) Committee, said that they want peace to prevail between the two communities.
“We don’t want the situation to get out of hand. And believe in forgive and forget,” he added.
However, Singh said that, some of the families who informed the elders about the incident later received text messages threatening them for “publicising the incident to gain attention,” causing panic within the community.
Similarly, since the incident was resolved among the communities, no FIR was launched at Lakhi Dar police station, Station House Officer, Anwar (last name not given), informed.
Speaking up in the defense of the temple head, SHO Anwar said that: “Both communities wanted to end the incident peacefully, until a young Sikh man abused Narayan Bhajan.”
When inquired about the incident, SSP Shikarpur Parvez Ahmed Chandio said that an inquiry has been ‘set up’, the report of which will be received within three days. “Till that time I can’t say much about the issue.”
DIB In charge, Naushad Sheikh however denied that such an incident had occurred in the area.
“The four day mela at the Jai Samadha Ashram concluded peacefully, and no such incident of desecration of a holy book was reported to me.”
The head of the temple, even after being contacted several times, did not respond to give his side of the story.
Considering the sort of hype and anger such incidents create, the head of the Delhi Dharam Parchar Committee in India has also written a letter to both the Pakistan High Commission as well as the head of the Evacuee Trust in Islamabad to look into the matter.