In a heart-warming story of inter-communal camaraderie, a group of Sikhs rebuilt and handed over a mosque destroyed in Sarwarpur village during partition in 1947.
According to a report in the Milli Gazette, Imam Maulana Habibur Rahmasani Ludhianwi profusely congratulated the local Sikh community for its magnanimity, while handing over keys of the rebuilt mosque to the eldest Muslim in the village.
"It is a slap on the face of communal elements," the daily quoted the Imam as saying at a function attended among others by representatives of the Shiromani Gurdawara Parbandhak Committee.
A similar gesture was undertaken by the Sikh community in Gurdaspur district two months ago, said the daily, when it handed over a mosque that had been used as a Gurdwara for over 60 years.
Known as 'Guru-ki-maseet', the mosque in Sarwarpur is believed to have been built by Sikh Guru Hargobind Singh 370 years ago. According to Sikh tradition, the Guru had converted the house of a deceased Muslim into a masjid and set up a langar (community kitchen) for the poor. After the local Muslims abandoned the site of worship during partition, the Sikh community converted it into a Gurdwara.
It was restored to the Punjab Waqf Board through a memorandum of understanding signed by the Nihangs, the Sikh caretakers of the mosque. Waqf board administrator Rizwanul Haque said the MoU states that the Taruna Dal, a sect of Nihangs, will conserve and manage the historic mosque and allow Muslims to perform prayers there.
"For over 60 years, this mosque has been maintained by the Nihangs, as it was abandoned at the time of the Partition," said Haque.
As the mosque had been in a state of disrepair for a long time, both communities pitched in and worked for its restoration. Sikh labourers, Muslim masons, and an all-woman team of restorers led by Gurmeet Rai lent their expertise to the mosque's restoration, the fortnightly said.
The report also cited a similar case of in Chahar Mazra village in Ropar district of Punjab, where the Sikh community had built a mosque for their neighbours, when they realised that the 15 poor Muslim households left in their village after partition couldn't afford to build a mosque.