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Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Birthplace in Neglect

by PRABHJOT SINGH

 

 

The birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at the Subzi Mandi in Gujranwala district in Pakistan is now a police station and the room where the Maharaja was born a lockup for criminals.

These revelations have been made by a senior Lok Sabha member, Rajeev Shukla, also a senior functionary of the BCCI. He wants that the next secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan should take up the issue, suggesting that the Sikh heritage building be converted into a gurdwara.

“It hurts our sentiments,” says Rajeev Shukla in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recalling that during one of his visits to Pakistan he had requested the then West Punjab (Pakistan) Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi to convert the building into a gurdwara.

“He had given a categorical assurance to do so. Unfortunately, this has not been done yet,” says Shukla in the letter.

The birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was declared a Sikh heritage building and the Pakistan’s Department of Archaeology asked to preserve and maintain it.

The beautiful spacious building has an open courtyard, dividing it into two parts. It is in the rear portion that Ranjit Singh was born to Bibi Raj Kaur on November 2, 1780. The Maharaja spent most of his childhood in this house, says a website.

It says there is a goldsmith's shop in the foyer of the house. The Department of Archaeology has not been looking after the house at all. The roof has collapsed and the walls have developed cracks.

Shukla says during his visit to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the granthis and sevadars had complained that they were not getting visas for India to pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib and other Sikh shrines.

"The Indian High Commission in Islamabad considered them Pakistanis and was reluctant to issue them visas.”

In his letter to the PM, Shukla suggests that “we should not see them (Pakistani Sikhs) with suspicion. The Indian High Commission should be directed to be lenient in issuance of visas to our Sikh brothers in Pakistan, particularly those from Nankana Sahib.

“After the Headley incident, the clearance of visas from Pakistan has been taken over by the Ministry of Home Affairs where applications remain pending for a long time. Even genuine applicants suffer unnecessarily. I think the power for issuing such visas should be restored to the Ministry of External Affairs, except in cases of persons with doubtful credentials,” adds Shukla.

 

[Courtesy: Tribune]

June 19, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: H.S. Vachoa (U.S.A.), June 19, 2011, 7:50 AM.

Why should it be converted to a gurdwara?

2: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), June 19, 2011, 8:24 AM.

I do not see why the heritage site should be converted into a gurdwara. Maharaja Ranjit Singh belonged to the whole of Greater Punjab - Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus alike. He treated all his subjects with equality. The site should be a world class heritage site with a museum celebrating the Maharaja's life and his unparalleled legacy. It's heartbreaking to read that it isn't so and that it is not even thought of as yet.

3: Brijinder Singh (New York, U.S.A.), June 19, 2011, 10:43 AM.

If it is turned into a gurdwara, it will be looked after by the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandak Committee.

4: R. Singh (Canada), June 19, 2011, 11:44 AM.

It is an important heritage site and should remain one - irrespective of governments, such historical sites need to be preserved for all humanity.

5: Gagandeep Singh (Australia), June 19, 2011, 8:16 PM.

As an avid enthusiast and admirer of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, I agree wholeheartedly with H.S. Vachoa and Gurmeet Kaur. There is absolutely no reason or point for the site to be converted into a gurdwara. I have always been staunchly opposed to the destruction of historical sites and artefacts, especially if the reason is just to erect another marble gurdwara. In my honest opinion, the SGPC are eradicating any sense of differentiation between our gurdwaras and turning any remaining sites of any significance whatsoever into another McGurdwara (Please note the usage of this term is not to disrespect the gurdwara but rather to highlight the consequences of what the SGPC is doing to our Sikhi, by turning all gurdwaras into 'franchised' places of worship). Case in point would be the SGPC's attempt to try and takeover Hemkunt Sahib and rebuild it, most likely exactly as all the other Gurudwaras, but what they fail to recognize is that Hemkunt Sahib has a distinct character and feel to it, almost a spiritual tranquility which in my opinion differs completely from many other gurdwaras. As the above postings have commented, we must preserve what little of our Sikh heritage and history remains and preserving the birthplace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a museum dedicated to him and his life is an excellent idea. The only downside is that it's in Pakistan, restricting the number of people willing to travel to that location, given present security concerns.

6: Aman (California, U.S.A.), June 20, 2011, 10:28 AM.

We should first destroy it and then put nice, new marble everywhere! We should make sure that no old artifacts remain. Isn't that what we do with all of Sikh history's cherished places?

7: Brijinder Singh (New York, U.S.A.), June 20, 2011, 2:15 PM.

No, actually we tend to ignore these places or entertain ourselves with the notion that other people give a damn about our history, and will swoop in to save the day. Who will maintain a museum for Maharaja Ranjit Singh? The Pakistani government? Yeah, right! At least a gurdwara will be properly maintained by a Sikh body with money and manpower. No reason why a small museum couldn't be housed within the gurdwara.

8: Tariq Amir (Doha, Qatar), July 20, 2015, 1:09 PM.

The Samadhi of Charat Singh is being used as a police station in Sabzi Mandi. I have visited the place. You can visit my blog for more details: pakgeotagging.blogspot.com

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