que and gurdwara still uncomfortably close

Gurudwara* Conflicting claims over when que was constructed: some say 8 months ago, some say 8 years ago, some say 40 years ago
* JKSPP Admin Officer says DCO’s help will be sought if people involved do not co-operate
* DCO says que will be demolished if JKSPP asks for govt help
* Sikh community asks to be kept out of issue

The Jammu and Kashmir State Property of Pakistan (JKSPP) has not yet resolved the issue of an illegal que built on top of one of its properties in Naulakha Bazaar. Interestingly, the que is right in front of Gurdwara Shaheed Singh Singhrian (also known as Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj).

Even more interesting is the fact that there is a misunderstanding over when the illegal que was built. Daily Times has learnt that the que was built about eight months ago. However, the president of a local bazaar association stated that people had been praying at the que for the past 40 years and the person who actually built the illegal que claimed that his father had built the que about eight years ago. Ejaz Hussain, the person who leased the property from JKSPP, built the illegal que on the roof of his shop without acquiring permission or a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from authorities concerned.

The shop’s address is Number 37 at Shaheed Gunj Chowk, Shaheed Gunj Bazaar.

The que and the gurdwara are merely 25 feet apart although Auqaf Department rules state that all religious places should be at least 200 feet from each other.

Residents of the area told Daily Times that they feared the close proximity of the que and gurdwara could ignite interfaith clashes. They alleged that the que management intended to demolish the gurdwara as its next step.

JKSPP Administration Officer Masroor Abbasi said that the department had not called in Ejaz Hussain yet. He said that the shopkeeper was a JKSPP tenant and could not construct anything on the shop without JKSPP’s permission. However, he said that the que management had removed the speakers on JKSPP’s directions.

Negotiations: Abbasi said that he had ordered Zubair Ahmad, the JKSPP rent collector, to call in the que management to resolve the issue. He said that if the people involved did not agree to a resolution, JKSPP would write to the district coordination officer (DCO) to demolish the illegal que.

JKSPP Secretary (Northern Areas and Kashmir Issues) Salman Siddique said that it was illegal for somebody to construct anything on government property or to try and change its design. He said that if a JKSPP official was found involved, he would be punished.

‘que to be demolished’: DCO Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta said the building in question was government property and the department concerned should take action against such illegal activities. However, he said that if the department requested for the district government’s intervention, the government would demolish the illegal que. He said that he would not waste any time if he got a letter from JKSPP.

Shaheed Gunj Loha Bazaar President Raja Ashfaq said that the que management had started constructing the que’s floor. He claimed that shopkeepers of the bazaar had been praying at the que for 40 years.

Talking to Daily Times on May 26, Ejaz Hussain had claimed that his father had built the que eight years ago.

Raja Ashfaq told Daily Times that the que management had removed the loudspeakers on JKSPP’s directions. He said that he had a plan to counter JKSPP, if they decided to demolish the que. However, he did not elaborate what he would do. He also claimed to have the Sikh community’s support.

Other shopkeepers told Daily Times that the que management was forcing Sikhs to issue statements in its favour. They said that the Sikhs had asked the shopkeepers to leave them alone because they wanted to live in peace and stay out of issues pertaining to the government.

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