The Pakistan Police on Monday launched an investigation against a Pakistani model and a clothing brand for hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikh community by conducting a bareheaded photoshoot at the revered Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur following an Indian Sikh journalist's criticism of the pictures.
Noting that the pictures have been uploaded on social media, independent journalist Ravinder Singh in a tweet highlighted the disrespect shown to the community and also tagged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in his post.
"Modelling bareheaded for ladies' attire, in the premises of Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib at #KartarpurSahib in Pakistan, by a Lahorite woman has [severely] hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs," he said in the tweet.
Covering one's head in a gurdwara is mandatory and considered as a way of showing respect for the revered place.
The Punjab province's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government got into action following the criticism on social media about the photoshoot.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar issued a statement saying he has taken notice of the incident and ordered an inquiry into the matter.
He said action will be taken against those officials who allowed the "modelling" at the gurdwara.
“Action will be taken against those responsible after a comprehensive investigation into this matter,” he declared.
A Punjab police spokesperson in a tweet said, "Punjab Police are investigating all aspects related to this incident and strict legal action will be taken against those responsible. Management of the concerned brand & model are being investigated. Worship places of all religions are equally respectable.”
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet said "the designer and the model must apologise to Sikh community" over the photos.
"Kartarpur Sahib is a religious symbol and not a film set," he tweeted.
According to a report in the Dawn newspaper, the model's photos were shared on the Instagram page of a clothing brand named Mannat Clothing, but were removed after the criticism.
Azhar Mashwani, the Punjab chief minister's focal person for digital media, was quoted as saying in the report that police would first investigate the model and the brand's role in the capturing of the photos and later register a case.
"The Police are checking whether the model conducted the photoshoot on her own or the brand carried out the session," he said.
However, the brand- Mannat Clothing - clarified that the pictures posted on its accounts are not part of any photoshoot done by it.
“These pictures were provided to us by a third party (blogger) in which they were wearing our dress. However, we accept our mistake that we should not have posted this content and we apologise to every single person who was offended by this,” it said.
Model/blogger Sauleha Imtiaz, who posed in the pictures, also apologised saying: “I just went to Kartarpur to learn about the history and know about the Sikh community. It wasn't done to hurt anyone's sentiments or anything for that matter."
"However, if I have hurt anyone or they think that I don't respect their culture, I am Sorry. I respect the Sikh culture very much and I am sorry to all the Sikh community,” she wrote on Instagram.
A senior official of the Punjab government told PTI that no such fashion shoot can be done especially at the Kartarpur Sahib without the knowledge/permission of the officials concerned.
"There has been strict security at Kartarpur Sahib observing the code of conduct there. It is simply out of question that a model dodges the security personnel and does a fashion shoot. Someone from the gurdwara is involved in this episode," he said.
This is not the first time Pakistani models and actresses have come under criticism for conducting photo shoots at religious places.
Pakistani actress and model Saba Qamar, who starred in Bollywood movie 'Hindi Medium', was earlier booked in a blasphemy case for doing a photoshoot at historic Masjid Wazir Khan in old city of Lahore.
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