Special Branch asked to vacate gurdwara.
Byline: Aamir Yasin
RAWALPINDI -- The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has asked the Special Branch of the police to vacate the gurdwara at Bagh Sardaran where it has established its offices.
Constructed by Sardar Sujan Singh Rai Bahadur before the partition of the subcontinent, the gurdwara building also used to house a library and a school.
The main building was given to the Special Branch on a lease.
'In 1992, the Special Branch informed the ETPB that it was shifting to Adiala Road and would vacate the gurdwara. However, it failed to do so,' said ETPB Deputy Administrator Mohammad Asif.
He said the Special Branch was given four kanal on a lease for which it was paying the rent. But actually it is using an additional eight kanal for parking. He said a letter had been written to the police department to vacate the property.
'The Special Branch is paying Rs1,500 per month rent for the building and is using the adjacent land of the gurdwara which used to be a garden of the worship place in the past.' He said when the tenant was asked to vacate the gurdwara it agreed to increase the rent but the ETPB wanted to get back the possession of the land.
Mr Asif said the ETPB planned a reassessment of the land after vacating it from the Special Branch. He said on the direction of former ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq notices had been sent to the tenant.
'The ETPB plans to give the extra land of the gurdwara to the special children's school as the gurdwara has not been used for worship for over 70 years.' He said the main building of the worship place would remain vacant.
On the other hand, the local Sikh community has demanded that the government should open the gurdwara for worship purposes. 'There is no gurdwara open for the community in Rawalpindi and adjoining areas,' said Amarjeet Singh, who owns a shop near Banni.
Another Sikh community member, Sardar Heera Lal, told Dawn that a gurdwara in Hassanabdal was available for worship but it was difficult for the residents of the garrison city to go there even twice a week.
He said a large number of people belonging to the Sikh community visited the city and there was a need to open a worship place for them.