Hundreds of angry Muslim residents of Nankana Sahib pelted stones on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on Friday. The mob was being led by the family of Mohammad Hassan, the boy who allegedly abducted and converted Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur, who is the daughter of the gurdwara's Granthi.
The mob of angry Muslims gheraoed the holy shrine on Friday afternoon, leaving many devotees stranded inside. The protesters threatened to destroy the gurdwara and build a mosque in its place.
In a video, recorded at the site of the protest, Hassan's brother could be seen saying that he will destroy the gurdwara to build a mosque. Addressing a mob at the gates of the holy shrine, Hassan's brother said that he will ensure that no Sikh is left in the city and that it is renamed from Nankana Sahib to Ghulaman-e-Mustafa.
Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement condemning the vandalism of the holy Sikh shrine. "We are concerned at the vandalism carried out at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurdwara (in Pakistan) today. Members of the minority Sikh community have been subjected to acts of violence in the holy city of Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji," the ministry statement said.
"India strongly condemns these wanton acts of destruction and desecration of the holy place. We call upon the Government of Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community," it said.
"Appeal to @ImranKhanPTI to immediately intervene to ensure that the devotees stranded in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib are rescued and the historic Gurdwara is saved from the angry mob surrounding it," Amarinder Singh tweeted.
Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal also took to Twitter to express his outrage on the incident and request PM Narendra Modi to take it up with Imran Khan urgently. "Mob attack on Gurdwara Sri #NankanaSahib, birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev ji, is a despicable act and I urge PM @narendramodi ji to take it up with Pak PM @ImranKhanPTI. We have to ensure the safety of Sikhs in Pakistan and I trust that the govt will address the issue on priority," SAD chief tweeted.
SAD MP Harmsirat Kaur Badal claimed that the incident showed 'the true face of Pak'. "True face of Pak stands exposed! First Sikh minor girl kidnapped & forcibly married. Now kidnappers attacking victim family & holy shrine Gurdwara #NankanaSahib. I urge PM @narendramodi ji & @DrSJaishankar to ensure Pak stops this barbarity & ensure safety of Pak Sikh community," she said on Twitter.
The situation was brought under control after the local police and Pak Rangers arrested the protesters. However, locals say that they fear that a similar situation may arise again.
The angry mob at the gurdwara was being led by Mohammad Hassan's brother, who has claimed that Hassan has been beaten up mercilessly by the authorities for lawfully and consensually marrying the daughter of the gurdwara's granthi (the ceremonial reader of Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib). The family claims that the Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur, now known as Ayesha, has refused to convert back despite the pressure.
"I have been beaten by police authorities many times on orders of the minority minister and others. These Sikhs have been pressurising us to send the girl back to them. But that will never happen because she is a Muslim now. She does not want to leave my brother or Islam. We will stand by her side and protect her," said the brother of Hassan.
India Today TV spoke to the local Sikh community, who said that the family of Muhammad Hassan has led the mob because they had been asking the family to return Jagjit Kaur to them.
"We have been asking Punjab governor and others to help us get Jagjit Kaur back to her family. This mob has targeted us because of the same reason. The brother of the Muslim boy is leading this mob. They have been pelting stones at the Gurdwara for hours now," said a local Sikh in Nankana Sahib.
"We have asked the authorities to help us," he added. The Sikh community in Nankana Sahib said they will file a case against Hassan’s family. Nankana Sahib, a district in Pakistan's Punjab province with a namesake gurudwara, assumes importance for Sikhs as their first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev was born there in 1469.