PESHAWAR: An ancient Sikh temple, Bhai Beba Singh Temple, which remained non-functional for 70 years, was opened for worship on Wednesday.
Minority communities expressed jubilation over the opening of the historic temple located in Mohallah Jogiwara in the Hashtnagri area of the interior city.
Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Siddiq-al-Farooq formally opened the temple by unveiling the plaque.
Special Assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Minority Affairs Sardar Suran Singh, Federal Secretary for Shrines Khalid Ahmad, Deputy Secretary for Shrines Imran Gondal and representatives of Sikh, Hindu and Christian communities were present on the occasion.
Religious rituals such as Ardas and recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, holy book of Sikhs, were performed. Sikhs were excited over the opening of a revered place where their elders used to worship.
“Opening of the historic Sikh temple has showed the true soft image of Pakistan where minorities are getting equal rights to live and worship,” said Haroon Sarabdiyal in his emotional speech on the occasion. “Muslims have provided us space in the core of their heart and shown to the world that Pakistanis are not religious intolerants and extremists,” he added. He said the present government had proved that it was striving to fulfill the dream of Quaid-e-Azam, founder of Pakistan, of the creation of a country where minorities could coexist with Muslims.
Sardar Suran Singh said that people should know that minorities in Pakistan were living freely, going to their worship places freely and doing business in a very conducive environment.
Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) Member Sardar Bishan Singh said that opening of the temple was a big favour of the government in general and people of Peshawar in particular to the Sikh community. He said it was a good gesture of Muslims that a closed temple remained safe and was not misused or occupied by anyone.
Speaking on the occasion, Farooq said it was a matter of happiness for the minority community that their closed temple had been opened for worship. He said that he had allotted a plot of 2,000 square yards to the Sikh community in Hassan Abdal to use it as a crematorium.
He said that Islam protected the rights of minorities and being a Muslim it was the religious responsibility of every Pakistani to give security and rights to minorities. He appreciated the role of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in opening of the Bhai Beba Singh Gurdwara. He said, “We have to create an atmosphere of fraternity and brotherhood in our country”.
Farooq said that people of all religions should respect each other and this was the spirit of all religions. He said that he faced several hurdles in the opening of this temple, but he went on with the plan for the sake of interfaith harmony. He announced a donation of Rs0.5 million for the temple and said his department was working on construction of 1,000 rooms at all big temples in Pakistan. He asked the Sikh community to raise its demands at the upcoming meeting of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.Sardar Suran Sing announced a donation of Rs3 million for the Gurdwara.