Pakistan shrine raid angers Sikhs

Sikhs in the north Indian state of Punjab have expressed anger at an attack on a Sikh shrine in Pakistan.

More than 100 students threw stones at the Gurdwara shrine, birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, at Nankana Sahib, west of Lahore, on Saturday.

They were protesting at the conversion of a college building at the site into a residential hall for Sikh pilgrims.

The chief of the top Sikh shrines committee, Bibi Jagir Kaur, called the attack "a matter of grave concern".

Pakistani officials say it was the result of a minor misunderstanding and the safety of the shrine was not endangered.

The temple is the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.


Ms Kaur issued appeals for intervention from the Indian president and from India's first Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

On Tuesday, the Indian foreign ministry issued a statement saying: "We hope the government of Pakistan will take the necessary measures for the protection of this holy shrine."

Ms Kaur said her Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee would form a high-level delegation of MPs, academics and clergy to carry out an inspection of damage to the shrine.

The shrine is looked after by the Pakistan Evacuee Properties Trust, which is responsible for most shrines of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Senior trust officials said the attack was an isolated incident and should not be overplayed.

The trust's Izhar ul-Hassan told the BBC the attack was a misunderstanding among a group of students and the matter had been resolved.

Mr ul-Hassan said media reports were being exaggerated by elements that had a vested interest in sabotaging the current improvement in India-Pakistan relations.

The students were apparently angry that the Punjab province government had agreed to hand over a college building near the temple to the Nankana Sahib Trust to house Sikh pilgrims.

They believed the college would have to be relocated.

Provincial education secretary Nazir Saeed said on Sunday that the building would be vacated only after construction of a new one for the college.