Pakistan rejects Indian claim of attack on Sikh site
Foreign Ministry says 2 Muslim groups fought in but no attack occurred at holy site
Pakistan rejected Friday an Indian Foreign Ministry’s claim of an attack on a Sikh community sacred site in the northeast.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement the altercation occurred between two Muslim groups and rejected reports of an attack on Gurdwara, a place of worship for the Sikh community.
The statement came after India’s Ministry of External Affairs claimed vandalism was carried out at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurdwara site Friday and members of the minority Sikh community were subjected to such acts.
"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," said Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui.
The altercation that occurred was a minor incident at a tea-stall and local authorities immediately intervened and arrested the accused who are now in custody, she added.
Referring to the Ministry of External Affairs of India's statement, Farooqui said attempts to paint the 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’ and desecration of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous," she said.
The Ministry of External Affairs of India said New Delhi is concerned about vandalism carried out at the site Friday.
"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," it said in a statement.
"These reprehensible actions followed the forcible abduction and conversion of Jagjit Kaur, the Sikh girl who was kidnapped from her home in the city of Nankana Sahib in August last year,” the statement continued.
"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 added.
Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak is located 80 kilometers (49 miles) from Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. It the site where Guru of the Sikhs was born and is regarded as one of the holiest sites in the religion.
According to local media, dozens of protesters Friday surrounded the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib after police arrested the suspects in an alleged forced conversion case.
Protesters were led by the family of a man, who was accused of forcibly converting a Sikh woman Jagjit Kaur earlier this year, a local English newspaper reported.
However, protesters later dispersed after the local administration released those arrested.