Pak Sikhs flay ex-minister for remark on Maharaja Ranjit Singh
AMRITSAR : The Sikh community in Pakistan has strongly objected to the derogatory remark made by Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and country’s former railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique against Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire, and demanded an apology from him.
Rafique, who is facing trial in corruption cases in Pakistan’s courts, in a tweet termed Ranjit Singh as an “authoritative looter”, held him responsible for the desecration of mosques during his regime and the domination of the Dogras in the Kashmir valley.
“The science minister should apologise to the nation for calling Ranjit Singh’s era the golden age and terming him the greatest hero of Punjab,” reads the tweet written in Urdu.
The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has lodged protest against the statement. “The words used by the former railway minister are highly objectionable. The Sikh community in Pakistan and the gurdwara management committee strongly condemn these words,” said PSGPC president Satwant Singh.
He said, “It is sad that Rafique has not read history of Sikhs who have always favoured human values. As far as Maharaja Ranjit Singh is concerned, we don’t have any single instance from his 42-year-long regime that he ever committed any atrocity against any person. The biggest evidence of this is that nobody was sentenced to death in his rule.”
“Leaders of Sikh community had never been dacoits or robbers. He should apologise for this,” he added.
Also, Gopal Singh Chawla, a Khalistan sympathiser, said in a video that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was their hero and words against him are not tolerable.
“Had he (Rafique) been a good politician, he would not face so many cases. Maharaja Ranjit Singh never differentiated between people on the basis of religion,” he said.
Besides, some liberal Muslims in Pakistan have condemned the remark. “He has no right to use these kinds of words,” said Shahid Shabir, an activist working for the preservation of Sikh heritage in the country.