India on Thursday asked Pakistan to reverse its decision to transfer the management and maintenance of the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee to the Evacuee Trust Property Board.
New Delhi said that taking one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines away from the community hurt minority religious rights.
The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), set up in 1960, looks after the properties left behind by Sikhs and Hindus while migrating to India during the Partition.
Pakistan had on Tuesday notified the establishment of a “project management unit”, a self-financing body, under the administrative control of the ETPB for the purpose.
The ministry of religious affairs and inter-faith harmony had taken the decision purportedly because the gurdwara needed more supervision following the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from India last year.
“This unilateral decision by Pakistan is highly condemnable and runs against the spirit of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as also the religious sentiments of the Sikh community at large,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“Guru Nanak spent a considerable part of his life in Kartarpur and is also buried there. We have received representations from the Sikh community expressing grave concern at this decision by Pakistan targeting the rights of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan.
“Such actions only expose the reality of the Pakistani government and its leadership’s tall claims of preserving and protecting the rights and welfare of the religious minority communities. Pakistan is called upon to reverse its arbitrary decision to deprive the Sikh minority community its right to manage affairs of the Holy Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.”
According to the ETPB website, it supervises and controls all evacuee land and property attached to charitable, religious or educational trusts.