LAHORE: After the outrage on both sides of the border in India and Pakistan at a photoshoot at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the model and the clothing brand involved in the incident have tendered apologies to the Sikh community for hurting its sentiments

On Monday, the model and blogger as well as the brand stirred emotions for posting ‘barehead’ pictures taken on the premises of the gurdwara in district Narowal.

The management of the online brand, Mannat Clothing, had allegedly posted multiple pictures of the photoshoot on a social networking site. The Pakistani model was seen posing in front of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib wearing a red outfit with her head uncovered. As a mark of respect, it is mandatory for all men and women to cover their heads while visiting a gurdwara.

Reacting to the clothing brand’s shoot video and pictures, Sikh journalist Ravinder Singh Robin tweeted: “Modelling bareheaded for ladies’ attire, in the premises of Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, by a Lahorite woman, has several hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs. Further, the pictures were uploaded on social media”.

Sharing of video and photoshoot by the Indian journalist put the PTI government on its toes, leading Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, federal ministers among others criticizing the designers and the model. The CM ordered action against the staff that allowed the shoot and sought a report on the incident.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted: “The Designer and the model must apologise to Sikh Community. KartarPur Sahib is a religious symbol and not a Film set…..”

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Shahbaz Gill, in his tweet, termed the modeling shoot as “Stupid and unthoughtful”.

When contacted, Punjab government spokesman Hasaan Khawar told Dawn that the whole incident was being investigated on three aspects – why model did the shoot at the religious place; why the clothing brand officials did not take due diligence while uploading the video and pictures on social media and the conduct of staff whether they were unaware, negligent or committed offence by allowing the shoot.

Mannat Clothing has apologised for the incident, stating, “We accept our mistake that we should not have posted this content. We wholeheartedly apologise to every single person, who was offended by this”.

On a social media site, the clothing brand stated, “The pictures posted on our account are not part of any shoot done by Mannat Clothing. The pictures were provided to the brand by a third-party (blogger) in which she was wearing its dress”. It stated that the Mannat Clothing had absolutely no role in deciding how and where the pictures were taken. “All the holy places are very sacred to us,” it said.

Sauleha Imtiaz, the model and blogger, has also apologised, writing on her Instagram

account: “Recently I posted a picture on instagram that was not even a part of a shoot or anything. I just went to kartarpur to learn about the history and know about the sikh community. It wasnt done to hurt anyone sentiments or anything for that matter. However, if i have hurt anyone or they think that I dont respect there culture. I am Sorry (sic)”.

She said she respected Sikh culture and apologiised to the Sikh community. She added, “These pictures were just a part of a memory that i went there. Nothing more nothing less”.

SAPM Dr Gill has, however, termed brand’s explanation as absurd. “I read their explanation, that they received these pictures videos from a third party. Absurd logic. Were you blind when you were using it on your official accounts?” Dr Gill tweeted.

Punjab Police stated the management of brand and the model were being investigated.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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