Pak Sikhs to stage protest if govt doesn't act on plaza issue

Pak Sikhs to stage protest if govt doesn't act on plaza issue

"Hundreds of Sikhs from across Pakistan will gather on the Mall Road to protest if authorities do not immediately stop the construction of the plaza. This gurudwara (Deewan Khana) is 400 years old and no Sikh can tolerate its desecration," Sardar Bishon Singh, a former president of the Pakistan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, told PTI.

The Sikhs will also join a sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly to protest the Evacuee Trust Property Board's (ETPB) failure to prevent the construction of the plaza, Singh said.
The ETPB is responsible for the maintenance and administration of shrines of minority communities.

Singh alleged that officials of the ETPB and Pakistan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee were involved in attempts to demolish Gurudwara Deewan Khana.

He said he had obtained an order from a sessions court staying the demolition of the gurudwara and construction of the plaza on March 21 but encroachers had violated this order.

He said that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had, during a meeting with an Indian Sikh delegation in November last year, told the ETPB to stop the construction of the plaza.
The EPTB initially complied with the Premier's order but the construction had recently resumed, Singh said.

Nine tenants had "temporary" shops near Gurudwara Deewan Khana for many years.
In 2007, the EPTB struck a deal with these tenants to build a plaza on the gurudwara's land, Singh alleged.

After he spoke to EPTB officials and explained that the land could not be sold, the deal was blocked and the tenants were asked to continue their business at their shops, he added.

ETPB chief Asif Hashmi told the media that the deal for the plaza was concluded before he assumed office.

He said that he would cancel the deal between the tenants and the ETPB as the site has religious significance for Sikhs.