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Pakistan to install Maharaja Ranjit Singh's restored statue at Kartarpur Sahib

The nine-foot statue of Sikh warrior Maharaja Ranjit Singh was vandalised by radical extremists in Pakistan three times in the past. The statue was restored and will be unveiled on the occasion of the Maharaja's death anniversary on June 27 (Wednesday).

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Lahore Published on: June 25, 2024 20:03 IST
Representational Image
Image Source : FILE Representational Image

Lahore: The provincial government of Punjab in Pakistan on Tuesday announced that it would install the restored statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first ruler of the Sikh Empire, at Kartarpur Sahib on Wednesday so that the Sikhs visiting from India can also have a view of the figure. The nine-foot-tall statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's statue was vandalised thrice by members of the radical Islamic party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

“We are going to install Maharaja Ranjit Singh's statue at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur on Wednesday afternoon in the presence of local and Indian Sikhs,” Punjab's first Sikh Minister and President (pardhan) of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora told news agency PTI.

The statue was first installed at the Lahore Fort near the Maharaja's Samadhi in 2019. The restored statuette is being placed at Kartarpur Sahib so that Indian Sikhs visiting there could see it, Arora said while assuring better security to protect it. The minister said restoration work of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Sandhi has already begun which will soon be completed.

This came as at least 455 Sikhs from India, along with Sikhs from other countries, arrived here last week to take part in festivities in connection with Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary, will also be present at Kartarpur Sahib on Wednesday when the Maharaja's statue will be unveiled. 

Who was Maharaja Ranjit Singh?

The statue was gifted by Sikh historian Bobby Singh Bansal, who is president of the UK SK Foundation. This bronze statue depicts Maharaja Ranjit Singh riding an Arabian horse named 'Kaif Bihar'. The statue was installed on the occasion of his 180th anniversary in June 2019, but radical extremists attacked the statue three times and broke it.

After the statue was repaired, it was reinstalled but then in August 2021, the statue was badly damaged for the third time. The Walled City of Lahore Authority repaired the statue once again, but the authority was unable to decide on its re-installation in the Shahi Qila for the past two years, as the authority was afraid that the extremists might damage it again. India had slammed Pakistan in the past following the vandalisation of the statue in 2021, saying Islamabad has completely failed in its duty to prevent such attacks which are creating a "climate of fear" among the minority communities. 

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century with his headquarters at Lahore. He ruled Punjab for 40 years and is widely considered an icon of religious tolerance. He was born November 13, 1780, Budrukhan, or Gujranwala (now in Pakistan) and died on June 27, 1839, in Lahore.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was an ambitious leader who worked for a united Punjab and made significant inroads into Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet. One of the most notable achievements of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the construction of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Sikh Empire under his leadership also made significant contributions to India's military history.

(with inputs from agencies)

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