The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) at a recent meeting with representatives of the Sikh community agreed to allot a piece of land for a gurdwara in Karachi, as par reports yesterday.
According to ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq, three areas — Clifton, Cantonment and Saddar — are being considered for a Sikh temple.
“The Sikh community showed their interest in having a gurdwara in Clifton saying that would be accessible to the community living there,” he said. However another plot, which was earlier being considered for the construction of the temple, has partly been encroached.
Although the ETPB chairman refused to tell the location of the plot, he did confirm that “discussions over that plot could not go as planned, that’s why we are considering other areas as per the request of the Sikh community”.
After having discussed it for the past one year, both parties agreed upon Clifton or Saddar for the probable construction site.
The suggestion by the ETPB came almost a year after discussions were held in December 2014.
At the meeting, the ETPB announced that the federal government had approved a 600-square-yard plot for a gurdwara in Karachi.
The announcement had come at a time when tensions were running high between the Hindu and the Sikh communities over alleged desecration of the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib at gurdwaras attached with the Hindu temples.
The cases were reported in Shikarpur, Sukkur, Sanghar and Badin among other districts and the dispute between the two communities persists. As a result, at a recent meeting with the two communities held by the ETPB in Karachi, the main demand of the communities was the protection of religious sites and temples.
Karachi has three functioning gurdwaras for the 2,500-strong Sikh community — in Narayan Pura Compound in Ranchhore Line, Gulshan-i-Maymar, and Manora, according to the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Sikh Council Sardar Ramesh Singh.
Besides, there are three more temples that have a disputed status at the moment. They include a gurdwara on Preedy Street near Ramchand Temple Road, but part of it is allegedly encroached upon by the Nabi Bagh Government College.
Another one is in Aram Bagh, which is a disputed property between the Hindu and Sikh communities and a court case in this matter has been pending since 1993.
“We have learned about the presence of another gurdwara in Keamari near the shrine of Ghayab Shah,” said Mr Singh. “It has been in that area for a long time. But our knowledge about the gurdwara is limited to a newspaper report that someone showed to us recently. It has been reported that the property is currently under encroachment by the ETPB itself,” he added.
The ETPB chairman said he had no knowledge of the gurdwara in Keamari or encroachment by ETPB officials.