| Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | 24 Feb 2017 | Asia Samachar |
The experiences of more than 60 Pakistani Sikhs, including at least a dozen who have since settled in India, are captured in a newly released book on Sikhs in Pakistan authored by a retired Malaysian university lecturer.
The 168-pages ‘Sikhs and Sikh Institutions In Pakistan’ by Dr Manjit Singh Sidhu was published recently by Amritsar-based Singh Brothers.
“Sikhs in India, and around the world, are hungry for knowledge about Sikhs in Pakistan. They want to know what is happening to the gurdwaras there. This book contributes to the contemporary situation of Sikhs in Pakistan,” Dr Manjit tells Asia Samachar.
SEE ALSO: Roles and functions of a gurdwara
Dr Manjit, 74, had deployed a similar writing model for four other Sikh-related books, including Sikhs in Thailand and Sikhs in Malaysia.
‘Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan’ by Amardeep Singh is another recent addition on Sikhs and Sikh heritage in Pakistan. The 492 page book, illustrated with amazing photographs, was released by a former Singapore-based corporate executive in 2015.
Dr Manjit’s book includes interviews with 50 Sikhs still living in Pakistan and another 15 who have migrated to India.
“I’ve been going to Nankana Sahib and other Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan every year for the last 14 years. I was approached by some Delhi Sikh officials to write the book, but they later failed to deliver on their promise” he said.
He was referring to the out-going committee of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGPC).
“I feel I have contributed something despite being on a shoe-string budget,” he said.
If funding comes through, Dr Manjit has plans to write a similar book on Sikhs in Afghanistan.
“This may be the last chance. The Sikhs with memories of Afghanisatan are already now in their 70s or 80s,”
On the significance of Pakistan to the Sikhs, Dr Manjit writes: “The present Pakistan was the crade of the Sikh Religion as its founder Guru Nanak was born there.”
How is that? Many historical Sikh Gurdwaras are located there. Main territory of the Sikh empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh also belonged to this land. During the British rule, Sikh farmers developed the canal colonies in the semi-desert areas of West Punjab (now Pakistan) and settled there. Contributions of the Sikh settlers for the development of the area is enormous, he explains in the book.
“Unfortunately, the partition of British-India in 1947 was a cruel blow to the Sikhs. The communal frenzy made the atmosphere poisonous and about a million people lost their lives in the horrible riots besides enormous loss of properties. The Sikhs had to leave teir homeland and suffer also the loss of many Gurdwaras situated in that area. Only a few thousand Sikhs stayed behind in the tribal areas of NWFP,” he says in the book.
Dr Manjit, who born in Malaysia in 1943 and had his early schooling in Kluang, Johor. He had spent some time in Malacca with Sikh parcharak Baba Sohan Singh, whom he referred to as his ‘guardian and friend’.
He completed Bachelors of Arts at College Ludhiana and then pursued MA in Geography at Panjab University, Chandigarh. He read his PhD at Liverpool University, UK.
He began his teaching career as a Geography-cum-English teacher in Malaysia. He later taught for at the Universiti Malaya (UM) for five years and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) for 12 years. In between, he spent six years at two universities in West Africa.
Dr Manjit is also in the midst of finalising another book on Sikhs in Malaysia entitled ‘Pride of the Lions’. The book features more than four dozen Sikhs who haveexcelled in their respective fields, including judges, lawyer, teachers and security personnel.
Sikhs show little interest in preserving heritage in Pakistan, says author Amardeep (Asia Samachar, 15 Sept 2016)