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Ancient Gurdwara Closed Since 1942 Set For Reopening

The district administration on Saturday patched up things between Sikhs and Muslims over a gurdwara dispute paving the w...

Ancient gurdwara closed since 1942 set for reopening

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The Jogiwara Gurdwara~ see video below



Nov 15, 2015:
PESHAWAR: The district administration on Saturday patched up things between Sikhs and Muslims over a gurdwara dispute paving the way for the reopening of the place of worship closed since 1942.

“Members of Sikh community will resume the acts of worships in the ancient Jogiwara gurdwara soon after minor renovation and repairs are done to it,” said a Sikh participant of the jirga held in the office of the Peshawar deputy commissioner to resolve the longstanding dispute. The gurdwara is located near Hashtnagri locality.

The jirga was participated by DC Riaz Mehsud, special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs Sorang Singh, SP (City) Imtiaz Khan, DSP Sajjad Ahmad and representatives of local Muslim and Sikh communities. Peshawar admin helps Muslims and Sikhs end ‘privacy’ dispute

A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that the gurdwara was closed before the creation of Pakistan due to a dispute between Sikhs and Muslims over the ‘privacy’ of those living in the neighbourhood, especially women.

He said the two religious communities had lost two lives to the dispute.

The official said no one had bothered to make efforts for the reopening of the gurdwara since its closure more than 70 years ago.

After the jirga, Riaz Mehsud told Dawn that Muslims and Sikhs had formally done an agreement on the reopening of the gurdwara.

“Now, Sikhs can worship in the gurdwara without trouble,” he said, adding that the agreement was a classical example of interfaith harmony in Peshawar.

The DC said the gurdwara’s building was historic and beautiful. He said he had been making efforts with the help of the police officers and local elders for the reopening of the gurdwara that bore fruit on Saturday.

According to the agreement, a wall will be constructed near the gurdwara to ensure ‘privacy’ of the girls enrolled in the adjacent school in line with the local culture.

The agreement also read a wall would be constructed on the roof of the temple to ensure ‘privacy’ of those living in the neighbourhood.

“The people using the street near gurdwara won’t face any disturbance,” it said, adding that in future, the locals will not object to Sikhs observing rituals in the gurdwara.

When contacted, special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs Soran Singh said after the reopening of the Jogiwara gurdwara, Sikhs would get another place of worship in the city.

He said currently, Sikhs had only one gurdwara that was located in Mahalla Jogan Shah, which was reopened to worshippers in 1985.

The special assistant said the number of Sikhs in Peshawar had increased in the last one decade due to their displacement from different tribal areas for militancy.

He said the Jogiwara gurdwara needed minor repairs and whitewash for being closed for decades and when all that was done, it would be opened to worshippers.

“A grand ceremony will be held on the gurdwara reopening day,” he said.

Soran Singh said the reopening of the gurdwara would send out a positive message to the world about Pakistan and Peshawar.

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Gurdwara Siri Bhai Biba singh built in 1708 Jogi Wara Peshawar Cannthe renovation work on the centuries-old Gurdwara Bhai Biba Singh is nearing completion, but two parts of the building which constitute the musafir khana (lodging for pilgrims) and langar khana (free meal centre) have not been restored, enraging Sikhs who had been waiting for the reopening since long.Work at Biba Singh started in January 2012.

It was initiated by the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, with a budget of around Rs5.5 million. Biba Singh, within the walled city, is one of the two gurdwaras in the city and has not been used for worship since partition.Decades of negligence and lack of interest in preserving the gurdwara has done considerable damage to the buildings. The roof of the langar khana has collapsed, while the musafir khana too is in a deplorable state. However, under the renovation project, only the main hall used for worship has been renovated, which was in a far better condition.

The Evacuee Trust Board is now claiming that the langar khana is in fact a Hindu temple established in the premises of the gurdwara and it can therefore not be handed over to the Sikhs.“The gurdwara building is being restored and two Sikh religious leaders, including a sewadar will be provided for the building and will be paid by the trust,” said Isfaq, a trust board official. “The trust will also maintain the building.”

The schedule for making the gurdwara open for worship will be decided by the Sikhs and the trust, he told The Express Tribune.Sikh elder Baba Amarjit Singh, however, said: “Those people who have a thorough knowledge of the Sikh religion and religious buildings would tell you that the two-storey building is a musafir khana and the small beautiful building in front of the main worship hall is indeed a langar khana and not a Hindu temple.”

He added the gurdwara was established at the time of the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, who died in 1708, making this structure at least 300 years old.Until 2005, it housed a vocational training centre for girls, which was shifted to a new building following an earthquake. The historical site was declared dangerous and on the verge of collapse.Now Gurdwara in better condition but still not daily Parkash and other activities like other Gurdwaras .Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.

Posted by Save Historical Places of Pakistan on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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