Stop the Destruction of Sikh Heritage

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We, as members of the Sikh Panth, are utterly dismayed to learn of the partial destruction of the historic Darshani Deori (gateway) of Gurdwara Sri Taran Taran Sahib on 31st March 2019 by members of Baba Jagtar Singh Ji’s Kar Seva team. It was only the immediate and strong actions of the local Sikh Sangat that prevented the complete destruction of this important Sikh religious monument.

The historic Darshani Deori (gateway), representing a vital example of Sikh religious architecture in its prime period, has been a key part of the Taran Taran religious complex that was established by fifth Sikh master Guru Arjan Sahib in Taran Taran, a town he founded in the 16th Century in Panjab, India.

The wilful destruction of Sikh heritage has been going on in India and Pakistan, in the name of modernization and maintenance, by kar seva teams who have little or no knowledge of modern conservation, preservation and restoration methods. There is a need to put a stop to the destruction of the Sikh Historical Heritage and preserve what is left.

A people without a history do not have a future, and the widespread destruction of Sikh heritage in recent decades has already led to a diminished sense of Sikh history. Younger generations of Sikhs are, increasingly, being denied a chance to see and experience the legacy of our Gurus and Sikh historical figures. We, therefore, call on Singh Sahib Jathedar Sr Akal Takhat Sahib Ji to stop the destruction of historical Sikh monuments and artefacts and to take concrete steps to ensure the preservation of Sikh heritage for future generations, with full accountability to the Sikh Panth.

We, the Sikh Sangat, can no longer afford to remain silent while key aspects of our religious and cultural heritage are being vandalised and torn down under the excuse of “improvement” or “seva”. This assault on Sikh history and the devastating loss of tangible and intangible Sikh heritage must stop.

The Gurdwara Parbandhak (Management) Committees of India and Pakistan are custodians of the Sikh Heritage and are responsible for the management of historic gurdwaras, takhats and other historic buildings, sites and artefacts. They are also responsible for the security, financial, maintenance and religious aspects of these heritage buildings, sites and sacred and historical artefacts, including shastar, clothes, books and writings of the Sikh Gurus and other religious writers.

We respectfully request Singh Sahib Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib Ji to do the following:
1. Establish an independent inquiry into the attempted destruction of the historic Darshni Deori at Taran Taran Sahib, with full transparency, and those found responsible, be held to account.

2. Order the setting up respective Sikh Heritage Preservation Committee comprising independent experts who will conduct a Heritage Impact Assessment to draw up a Sikh Heritage Preservation List and Plan for the Sikh Heritage in the care and custody of each of the following Management Committees: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee, Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Sahib Management Committee, Jammu and Kashmir District Management Committees and the Evacuee Trust Property Board - Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC).