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LAHORE: The Sikh community from India has rebuked the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for not taking sufficient steps to protect sanctity of holy places which was being violated at the hands of bloggers and TikTokers and called for awarding a similar punishment as was given to actress Saba Qamar for shooting a dance video at Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore.

The backlash came shortly after a video of a female blogger-cum-model, Sauleha Imtiaz, went viral on social media on Monday in which she was posing bareheaded for the camera at Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. The issue was first highlighted by an Indian Sikh journalist Ravinder Singh Robin who posted a picture of the lady on his twitter account and wrote: “Modelling bareheaded for ladies’ attire, in the premises of Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, by a Lahorite woman.”

“This has hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs. Further, the pictures were uploaded on social media,” Ravinder said and went on to tag PM Imran Khan and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, too, condemned the act on twitter and said that modelling at Sri Kartarpur Sahib was ‘desecration’.

He also shared a picture of Saba Qamar highlighting how a Pakistani court issued arrest warrant of the star for shooting a dance video at Wazir Ali Khan Mosque Lahore. He demanded that the same punishment must be awarded to the blogger and set an example of treating all religions at par. “Otherwise, any talk of respect for Sikhism is hollow,” he wrote.

Manjinder further said that such behaviour and act at the pious place of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was totally unacceptable. “Can she dare to do the same at her religious place in Pakistan? Imran Khan and the government of Pakistan should take immediate action to stop this trend of treating Sri Kartarpur Sahib as a picnic spot by Pakistani people.”

Replying to Ravinder, Punjab chief minister’s focal person for digital media Azhar Mashwani twitted that the matter had been forwarded to concerned authorities for legal action. Later, the Punjab police said they were investigating all aspects related to this incident and strict legal action will be taken against the responsible. “The management of concerned brand & model are being investigated. Worship places of all religions are equally respectable,” it said.

The blogger’s photos were first shared on the Instagram page of a clothing brand named Mannat Clothing but were removed after the criticism. In an Instagram post, the band said the pictures posted on its accounts are not part of any photo-shoot done by Mannat Clothing.

“These pictures were provided to us by a third party (blogger) in which they were wearing our dress. However, we accept our mistake that we should not have posted this content and we apologise to every single person who was offended by this,” it added.

Meanwhile, blogger Sauleha Imtiaz also tendered an apology in an Instagram post and said the pictures were not part of a formal ‘photoshoot’. “I just went to Kartarpur to learn about the history and know about the Sikh community. It wasn’t done to hurt anyone’s sentiments or anything for that matter.

However, if I have hurt anyone or they think that I don’t respect their culture, I am sorry. These pictures were just a part of a memory that I went there. Nothing more, nothing less; it wasn’t intentional. I respect the Sikh culture very much and I am sorry to all the Sikh community.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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