By Khushwant Singh
Jun 13th, 2010
On the front page of Syed Shahabuddin’s weekly The Milli Gazette there was a news item written by its editor Zafarul Islam Khan which I felt should have made headline news of every national daily in all our languages and the top news item of our TV channels. I did not see it appear in any other journal and felt saddened that our media had failed to perform its duty. The article was headlined ‘Sikhs rebuildmosque demolished in 1947’. I give a short summary of its contents. There is a village called Sarwarpur around ten kilometres from Samrala town in Punjab. It had a sizeable Muslim population and a mosque with a dome and minarets. In the communal civil strife which accompanied the partition of Punjab in August 1947 most of the Muslim population fled to Pakistan and the mosque was demolished by rampaging mobs of Hindus and Sikhs.
Last year, Sikhs of the village decided to rebuild the mosque and give it back to the Muslims. On May 22 Jathedar Kirpal Singh of the SGPC, the MLA of the village, Jagjivan Singh, and all villagers welcomed Maulana Habibur Rehman Sani Ludhianvi and presented, the keys of the mosque to the oldest Muslim villager, Dada Mohammed Tufail. There were triumphant cries of Allah-o-Akbar (God-o-Creator). Among those present was Mohammed Usman Radanvi, chairman of the Punjab Wakf Board.
My heart swelled with pride at what members of my community had done. They had done what Guru Nanak, whose first disciple Bhai Mardana remained Muslim to the end of his life, would have liked them to do; they had done what the Fifth Guru Arjan, compiler of the Adi-Granth and builder of the Harmandir (today’s GoldenTemple), whose foundation stone had been laid by the Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir of Lahore, would have applauded. And so would have Maharaja Ranjit Singh, one of whose Maharanis built the white marble dargah of Data Ganj Baksh, the most popular Sufi shrine in Lahore today. I don’t think its too late for the media to make amends for its oversight. It can still highlight this historic event. Let pressmen and crews of TV channels visit Sarwarpur, reproduce pictures of therebuilt mosque, interview residents of the village and tell all their countrymen what we need to do to keep it together. They could organise special showings for the destroyers of the Babri Masjid including L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambra, Kalyan Singh, the Hindu Mahasabhaees, Shiv Sainiks, Bajrang Dalis and others who share their venomous views. I think the results will be spectacular. And I am sure our Bapu Gandhi in heaven will be showeringhis blessings on the villagers of Sawarpur. Don’t you agree with me?
The Asian Age, New Delhi
Heartiest compliments and our appreciation to the Sikh community.