The American Sikh Council (ASC) is very concerned about the rapid deterioration of the law and security governing places of prayer and worship of minorities in and around India.
Various news sources and reports have stated that the local Buddhists have illegally entered and removed all the contents including the Sri Guru Granth Sahib of the Gurdwara called Sarv Dharam Sthal located at Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, India. The entire contents of the Gurdwara Gurudongmar have been dumped outside the Gurdwara Nanak Lama, Chungthang, Sikkim which is approximately 90 kilometers south.
This independent Gurdwara was built in 1987 by veteran Col (Dr) Dalvinder Singh Grewal and Sikh soldiers who happened to be serving in the Indian Army at that time. The small one room Gurdwara was built with personal funds of the Sikh soldiers and officers with proper permission form the local authorities.
The Gurdwara is located approximately 10 kilometers from the Indo-Chinese border, at an altitude of around 17,500 feet. Gurudongmar Lake is named such due to Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit during one of his ‘udasis’ around 1516. He is known among the locals as Gurudongmar since the 16th century.
The local population consists of primarily Buddhists but Hindus from outside the state of Sikkim have also been complicit in taking over the same Gurdwara illegally in the past. The Sikhs have built this Gurdwara and have the right to operate it any way they deem fit. If any other religious group wants to stake a claim they have every right to build a completely separate monastery or temple with permission from the local authorities.
Strong arm tactics by using ‘Goondas’ (goons) in order to illegally take control of a tiny Gurdwara on a remote mountaintop is the height of political chicanery, guile and stupidity. The local and state administration is complicit in the illegal takeover of the Gurdwara.
The forcible removal of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and all other contents from the Gurdara occurred on August 16, 2017. The Shrimoni Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) has sent a three man team to investigate the most recent incident. Col. (Dr) Dalvinder Singh Grewal who is an avid historian, a researcher, and has lived in the area in the 1970s and the late 1980s.
All the Sikh representatives including a representative of the ‘Sikh Channel’ reached Gangtok the capital of Sikkim to meet with the authorities and get to the bottom of the conspiracy but instead were threatened with possible arrest.
The Secretary of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Siliguri, that also manages the Nanak Lama Gurdwara stated, “This is a very serious issue. First of all the Buddhists should have not done so or at least they should have informed the nearest Gurdwara before shifting Guru Granth Sahib.”
According to news reports, “Yadwinder Singh, sewadar (caretaker) of Gurdwara Nanak Lama, Chungthang, Sikkim, said that on August 16, 2017 local Buddhists of Gurudongmar Lake and a few caretakers of Sarv Dharam Sthal left belongings of the Gurdwara, including the ‘saroop’ of Guru Granth Sahib, other scriptures, a photograph of Guru Nanak Dev and a few belongings in front of Gurdwara Nanak Lama.”
Dr. Dalvinder Singh indicated that the Army had set up Sarva Dharam Sthal, but over time, locals took over the control of the site. He informed that Buddhists of the Lepcha sect had also shifted the Guru Granth Sahib and locked the place. Dr.Dalvinder Singh, further stated that they had informed the SGPC and had sought their help.
Currently a writ petition which was filed with the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi and another at the High Court in Sikkim has given the Sikh team, time till September 13, 2017when evidence will be provided to substantiate the Sikh claim. The SGPC has finally acted and is supporting the great effort of the Sikh team of lawyers and selfless volunteers.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) is not only alarmed at the situation at the Gurdwara Gurudongmar, Sikkim but also at other Gurdwaras in Northern India where locals have taken over old historic Gurdwaras and converted them into Hindu temples like the Gyan Godri Gurdwara in Hardwar, Uttar Pradesh, India. This injustice has to stop and we request the Punjab government to take up this issue in order to further engage with the appropriate authorities and stop this ongoing discrimination. ‘Courtesy American Sikh Council’