Attempts to paint Nankana Sahib altercation as a communal issue patently motivated: FO

Updated January 04, 2020

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FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui issued a statement saying the altercation in Nankana Sahib happened because of a minor incident at a tea-stall. — Photo courtesy @ForeignOfficePk
FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui issued a statement saying the altercation in Nankana Sahib happened because of a minor incident at a tea-stall. — Photo courtesy @ForeignOfficePk

The Foreign Office has clarified that Friday's incident in Nankana Sahib, in which a number of people surrounded the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib to register their protest, was the result of an "altercation between two Muslim groups" and that it should not be portrayed as a communal issue.

"The provincial authorities in the Punjab province have informed that there was [a] scuffle in the city of Nankana Sahib today, between two Muslim groups. The altercation happened on a minor incident at a tea-stall," the FO spokesperson said in a statement issued late Friday, adding that the district administration "immediately intervened" and arrested the accused, who are now in custody.

On Friday, police had to step in amid rising tensions in Nankana Sahib after a heated debate at a tea stall threatened to blow into a big law and order issue, official sources said.

Reports said four customers while taking tea at Zaman’s stall in front of Gurdwara Janam Asthan started a conversation about his nephew, Muhammad Ehsaan, who came into the limelight a few months ago after being accused of forcing a Sikh girl to convert in order to marry her.

Zaman reportedly reacted with anger, which led to a confrontation between two groups. A small crowd gathered to raise slogans. A team of Nankana Sahib police had to intervene briskly to control the situation.

The FO press release said that "attempts to paint this incident as a communal issue are patently motivated."

"Most importantly, the Gurdwara remains untouched and undamaged. All insinuations to the contrary, particularly the claims of acts of 'desecration and destruction' [...] of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous," it added.

The statement emphasised that the government remains committed to upholding law and order and providing security and protection to the people, especially the minorities.

"The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan's special care extended to the minorities."

Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, also known as the Gurdwara Janam Asthan, is the site where the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak, was born and is regarded as one of the holiest sites in the religion.

Situation in Nankana normal: minister

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri in a statement said that no "unpleasant" incident had taken place in Nankana Sahib and the situation there was normal.

He said some locals had protested against the police for the release of some arrested persons but that they dispersed after the administration held talks with them.

"No loss of life or property took place in the episode," the minister said, adding that government authorities were in contact with the elders of the area.

Qadri said it was wrong for the Indian media to paint a "minor dispute" as a religious conflict. "India is unsuccessfully trying to divert the attention away from minorities who are up in arms there," he added.