BJP protests near Pakistan High Commission amid row over vandalism of Ranjit Singh statue at Lahore Fort

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Updated: August 18, 2021 1:53 PM

The 10-feet tall bronze statue of the first Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh was vandalised at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan's Punjab province on Tuesday.

The 10-feet tall bronze statue of the first Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh was vandalised at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan's Punjab province. (Express Photo)

The BJP on Wednesday staged a protest near the Pakistan High Commission in the national capital protesting against the vandalisation of a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Pakistan. 

The protesters including leaders and workers of Yuva Morcha, Purvanchal Morcha and Sikh Cell of the party’s Delhi unit raised slogans against the neighbouring country’s prime minister Imran Khan, demanding his apology. 

“We are demanding not just an apology from Khan but also asking for his assurance to stop persecution of Hindus and Sikhs and desecration of their shrines and idols. The Pakistan government must also apologise and install a grand statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh where it was demolished in Lahore,” said Delhi BJP media cell head Navin Kumar.

The nine-feet-tall bronze statue of the first Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh was vandalised at the Lahore Fort in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Tuesday. This was the third such incident since the status was installed in 2019.

This time the man from a religious organisation pulled down the statue from the horse. A video of the act went viral in which the vandal can be heard sloganeering while smashing the statue. Police have arrested the vandal who belongs to Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). In the previous two attacks since unveiling of the statue in June 2019, one of the miscreants belonged to TLP.

India has slammed Pakistan following the vandalisation of the statue, saying Islamabad has completely failed in its duty to prevent such attacks which are creating a “climate of fear” among the minority communities.

“Such attacks on the cultural heritage of minority communities in Pakistan highlight the growing intolerance and lack of respect for minority communities in Pakistani society. Incidents of violence against minority communities, including attacks on their places of worship, their cultural heritage, as well as their private property, are increasing at an alarming rate,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, adding that “it was only 12 days ago that a mob attacked and desecrated a Hindu temple in Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan”.

In June, 2019, Ranjit Singh’s statue was unveiled in a colourful ceremony in which several Sikh delegates from India, Pakistan and other countries also participated. The event was organised by Bobby Singh Bansal, from the UK, in collaboration with the Walled City of Lahore Authority.

This is not the first time that the statue has been targeted. The arm of the statue was broken in Lahore last year. It was also damaged in August 2019 by two young men, according to Geo News.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.

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