Pakistani Sikhs split over sale of gurdwara land

Lahore, Jan 6 (IANS) The Sikh community in Pakistani Punjab is split over the sale of gurudwara land to build houses.

On Tuesday, a group of Sikhs from Nankana Sahib demanded the resignation of Siddiqul Farooq, chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, of illegally selling canal land of Gurdwara Janam Asthan for a housing scheme, The Nation newspaper reported on Wednesday.

After staging a protest near the Punjab assembly, dozens of Sikhs gathered outside the Lahore High Court to express solidarity with Mastan Singh, the Sikh leader who faces trial for “anti-state activities”.

A high court division bench on Tuesday accepted the bail petition of Mastan Singh, a former president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC).

In his petition, Mastan Singh accused Sham Singh, the incumbent president of the committee, of having a false case registered against him.

“Siddiqul Farooq and Sham Singh joined hands with the land mafia and illegally sold canal land belonged to Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib, for a housing scheme,” his counsel Anwar Zahid told the court.

But Sham Singh’s counsel Tariq Bashir Awan argued that the investigation of the case had been transferred to the anti-terrorism department.

A law officer urged the court not to accept Mastan Singh’s bail plea, saying there were serious allegations of terrorism against him.

But after hearing both sides, a bench headed by Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu accepted the bail request. The judge said the prosecution would not benefit by keeping the accused in jail.

Sikhs are a minority in Pakistan.

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