07/27/2020, 13.40
PAKISTAN
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Old Sikh temple in Quetta returned to the faithful

by Shafique Khokhar

For 73 years, the Gurdwara was used as a girls’ high school. Around 2,000 Sikh families live in Balochistan. For a government official, the decision is historic, as the building is worth billions of rupees. "This act,” says expert, “shows that Sikhs are citizens with equal dignity in the country.”

Quetta (AsiaNews) – The Balochistan provincial government and the local High Court have returned a Gurdwara (temple) built 200 years ago to the Sikh community.

The handover of the building, about 1,300 square metres, took place a few days ago; for the past 73 years, it had been used as a school. Before it was returned, its students were admitted to other schools in the city.

Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara is located on Masjid Road, central Quetta. It was converted into a girls' high school right after Pakistan became independent in 1947.

Around 2,000 Sikh families live in Balochistan. Satwant Singh, president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, said that the temple was returned after great efforts by his organisation, the local Sikh community and the Evacuee Trust Property Board.

For Sardar Jasbeer Singh, chairman of the Sikh Community Committee in Balochistan, the place of worship’s return is a gift from the authorities.

Denesh Kumar, provincial parliament secretary and adviser to the Chief Minister on minority affairs, said that the restoration of the Gurdwara as a place of prayer for the Sikh community is a historic decision.

He noted that, due to its central location, the building is worth billions of rupees. Yet, this did not dissuade the local government from returning it to the Sikh community.

Lovely Singh, an expert on the history of Khalsa Raj, the Sikh empire that existed from 1799 to 1849, explains that all Pakistani Sikhs are grateful to the authorities for returning the Gurdwara, and for recognising its high religious and historical value.

"This act,” Singh told AsiaNews, “shows that Sikhs are citizens with equal dignity in the country.”

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