Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pressure the Pakistan government to undertake a thorough probe into the reported demolition of a centuries-old palatial structure, purportedly the Guru Nanak Palace.
The palace in Pakistan's Punjab province has been partially demolished by vandals, who also sold its precious windows and doors, a Dawn report had claimed on Monday.
The chief minister has also offered to get the property rebuilt by his government if the Centre is able to secure Islamabad’s permission for it.
In a letter to the prime minister, Singh asked Modi to seek a probe by Pakistan into the "wanton destruction" of the property and bring to justice those involved.
The chief minister called for urgent steps to restore the remaining structure through scientific conservation.
‘Destruction of Palace Hurt Sikh Sentiments’
He requested to impress upon the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government to preserve all such monuments associated with Sikh heritage in an institutionalised manner so that such incidents do not recur.
Singh said the palace's destruction had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs around the world.
“The building, which some media reports cite to be around four-centuries-old and has been visited by a large number of Sikh pilgrims, has been rapaciously pillaged and destroyed,” Singh’s letter alleged.
He said it has caused great consternation in the state as it had happened at a time when the two countries are poised to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
On Tuesday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP from Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, too had urged Modi to take up the issue with his Pakistan counterpart.
The walls of the four-storeyed building had pictures of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak as well as of various Hindu rulers, the Dawn report had said.
The "Palace of Baba Guru Nanak", said to have been built over four centuries ago, was frequented by a number of Sikhs from across the world, the report added.
A group of locals not only partially demolished the structure allegedly in connivance with Auqaf department officials but also sold its precious windows, doors and ventilators, it said.
‘Palace Has Nothing to do With Guru Nanak’
Another Dawn report, however, said that the palace had nothing to do with the founder of Sikhism, adding that it was not a sacred place related to Sikh religion or its founder, but ‘just a haveli’.
"“The people who occupied the haveli at the time of my visit told me that it was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh for a relative of one of Singh’s three wives belonging to that area.”" - Irfan Shahood, travel writer and poet, to Dawn
Sikh historian and writer Amardeep Singh, meanwhile, said in a Facebook post accessed by the report: “Such buildings of Sikh era with frescos of Guru Nanak are in abundance across Pakistan. Frescos of Guru Nanak inside the building do not make it a palace of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak never stayed in any palace.”
(With inputs from PTI, Dawn)
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