NANKANA SAHIB, Pakistan – An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Wednesday sentenced three people to imprisonment along with fine for vandalizing Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in the country’s Punjab province in January 2020. They were also accused of kidnapping and conversion and marriage of a Sikh girl. Five other accused were acquitted giving them benefit of the doubt.
Imran Chishti has been sentenced to jail for two years, while Muhammad Salman and Muhammad Ahmed were awarded six months imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 10,000 each. The court maintained that the accused were found guilty of inciting violence by gathering people to target and attack the Sikh community.
The case gained legal attention after Jagjit Kaur, a resident of Nankana Sahib, was forcibly kidnapped from her house by Chishti and his family. Kaur was later converted to Islam and married to Ehsan, changing her name from Jagjit Kaur to Ayesha.
The matter gained global attention as the case involved the country’s minority Sikh community. The police registered an FIR against eight suspects, accusing them of inciting people against the Sikh community, as a result of which, panic spread among the dwellers of the locality.
Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, also known as Gurdwara Janam Asthan, is a site near Lahore where the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak, was born.
In January 2020, a violent mob had attacked the Gurdwara and thrown stones and threatened to destroy the minorities worship place (Gurdwara Janamasthan) to build “Ghulaman-e-Mustafa” shrine there. However, police had controlled the situation.
Chishti, a government employee working in the Fisheries Department, and other suspects were arrested under terrorism and blasphemy charges following the attack on the Gurdwara last year. They faced charges under sections 295A, 290, 291, 341,506, 148 and 149 of Pakistan Penal Code and 7-ATA (anti-terrorism act).
According to the FIR, Chishti had incited the mob. He wanted to settle his family issue and created a law-and-order situation in the Nankana city. Police said Chishti had deliberately misled the area’s Muslim people against the Sikhs for his “family matter”.
Chishti is the elder brother Mohammad Hassan who married a teenage Sikh girl, Jagjit Kaur, in September, 2020 after allegedly abducting and converting her to Islam. The Muslims and Sikhs of Nankana Sahib, some 80kms from Lahore, had a face-off over the matter.