Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Bangladesh Gurdwaras a picture of neglect

With the return of a 58-member Sikh jatha from Bangladesh, the deplorable state of historic gurdwaras there has come to the fore. A report in this regard will soon be submitted to the SGPC.

Narrating the condition of the gurdwaras in Bangladesh, jatha head Satnam Singh Dhanoa said: “Barring Gurdwara Nanakshahi in Dhaka, all other gurdwaras are in a pathetic condition. The building of Gurdwara Sangat Tola is in such a bad shape that the people there advised us against going to the first floor, where Guru Granth Sahib is installed, in a large group. He wanted us to go in batches of five each so that the building wouldn’t collapse.”

Gurdwara Sangat Tola
Dhanoa revealed that the local authorities had also declared the building unsafe and once were even about to demolish it, but the Bangladesh Gurdwara Management Board based in Kolkata chipped in time to save the historic gurdwara. He said 10 Bangladeshi families were living on the gurdwara premises and out of them five had forged property registries.

The condition of Gurdwara Mymen Singh was worse. Dhanoa said the entire gurdwara functioned from a single room while locals had encroached upon large parts of its premises. The main room, which remained shut as there was no granthi in the gurdwara, was also in a bad shape as plaster was peeling off its roof. “We also discovered a copy of Guru Granth Sahib in a badly damaged condition there,” he said, adding that the residents who had encroached upon the land around the gurdwara were willing to cooperate if they were provided an alternative place to stay.

Similarly, two gurdwaras in Chittagong —- Gurdwara Sikh Temple Estate and Gurdwara Pahartali —- were also grappling with various problems. Dhanoa said though a wall had been raised around Gurdwara Sikh Temple Estate, a sizeable piece of cultivable land belonging to it had been encroached upon by locals who were engaged in activities like agriculture and fish farming.

Gurdwara Pahartali doesn’t have a granthi and therefore the one at Gurdwara Sikh Temple Estate has been performing duties there as well. Both the gurdwaras are located 3 km apart. There are a total of five granthis for all these gurdwaras, and out of them two are in India at present. Reacting to the plight of Bangladesh gurdwaras, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said the committee would approach the Bangladesh High Commission, urging it to allow the SGPC to renovate the gurdwaras there. “We are ready to take the responsibility of maintenance of these gurdwaras as well,” he added.

Perneet Singh/TNS, Amritsar, December 14

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