Khalida Niaz

PESHAWAR: After improvement in law and order in Bara tehsil of Khyber tribal district, the displaced people of Sikh community are also returning to their native areas and they are demanding revival of Shamshan Ghat (cremation ground) situated in Kalanga area.

Baba Jee Gorpal Singh, a Sikh community leader from Bara, said the problems of Sikh community have increased due to closure of Bara Shamshan Ghat after militancy and military operations. He said while talking to TNN that there is no cremation place for Sikhs even in Peshawar and they had to travel all the way to Attock (Punjab) in case of any death of their community member which is an expensive and tiresome exercise. He said Kalanga Shamshan Ghat in Bara is also in proximity to Peshawar and its restoration can reduce the difficulties to Sikh community.

Baba Jee Gorpal Singh said the Sikh community used Kalanga Shamshan Ghat for about 35 years. He said like other people, the Sikh community of Khyber tribal district had to leave the area due to law and order problems 10 years ago. He said a Muslim family has now been given the responsibility of looking after the Shamshan Ghat in Kalanga which also lives there. He said the Muslim family gets monthly stipend and ration from the Sikh community for looking after the cremation ground.

Gorpal Singh said the Sikh community of Peshawar can take full advantage from cremation place in Kalanga as it is situated just 10 kilometres from the provincial metropolis. He said the cremation ground needs repair and proper maintenance which can be possible only with government’s help.

The Sikh community leader said he held a meeting with the deputy commissioner of Khyber district and MPA from minority community Wilson Wazir and informed them about their demands regarding Shamshan Ghat.

Gorpal Singh said Sikh community owns 105 shops in Bara Bazaar and most of them live in Peshawar so they travel frequently between Bara and Peshawar. He said Sikhs want to return permanently to Bara, but can’t do so due to lack of facilities and their houses have also been damaged.

Muzamil Shah and his family are looking after the Kalanga Shamshan Ghat with the permission of Sikh community for the last three years. Muzamil Shah said his own house was damaged during militancy in Tirah after which he is living in the Shamshan Ghat and looking after it. He said he always keeps the cremation ground clean and looks after the plants on the site. He said Muslims are nowadays living in the houses vacated by the Sikhs during militancy.

Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Minorities Affairs Wazir Zada said Kalanga Shamshan Ghat is very much functional. He assured that the maintenance work on the Sikh cremation place will be initiated soon and water supply problem will also be resolved.

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