Gangtok, January 9, 2018: Sikkim was in the news in August 2017 over the ‘demolition’ of a Gurdwara built on the shore of Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim. The petitioner of the Sikh community referred to the 1997 built Gurdwara as ‘historic’. The Supreme Court in the matter ordered status quo in the light of an ongoing petition on the same matter in the High Court of Sikkim. The High Court of Sikkim had also ordered status quo as of August 30, 2017 and hearings for petition in High Court are to resume in March 2018.
Gurudongmar Lake is considered a holy lake by the people of Sikkim. The name Gurudongmar literally translates as ‘the red-faced Guru’, a direct reference to Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint who had spread Buddhism in Sikkim in the 8th Century. In 1997 the 20th Punjab Regiment began constructing a Gurudwara on the shore of the Gurudongmar Lake claiming that the lake had been blessed by Guru Nanak in the 15th Century. The Sikh Regiment even claimed the relics of Guru Padmasambhava in the Lachen Monastery – located close to the lake but not on the shore.
Speaking on the matter, Sikkim Chief Secretary said that the structures built by the army were in direct violation of the Forest Conservation Act as well as the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which provides for maintenance of religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
A source said that the Army had taken the land ‘by force’ and had proceeded to construct their Gurdwara. They have also built a canteen and other infrastructures and the locals now for the first-time face water shortages. He also stated that the Gurdwara on the shore of Gurudongmar Lake is not the only instance of the Army exerting force and grabbing land. In Chungthang, under similarly dubious circumstances, a Gurdwara and a hostel have been built.
Feature image courtesy: Northeast Today
TNT News with inputs from newsclick.in