Symbols of peace by MOHD. ZEYAUL HAQUE (JULY 03, 2007)

Among Sikhs there have always been holy men who have been respected and loved by people in general rather than Sikhs alone. The founder of the faith, Baba Guru Nanakji, was loved and respected by Hindus and Muslims equally, besides the followers of the new faith, who later came to be known as Sikhs, our loveable and affable "Sardarjis".

The philosopher poet Mohammad Iqbal, a protagonist of Islamic virtues, was an admirer of Baba Guru Nanakji (also known among Muslims as Nanak Pir) and wrote about him with love and respect. Even today there is a Sikh holy man right in Delhi, Baba Virsa Singhji, who is loved and respected as much by Hindus and Muslims as Sikhs.

One such Sikh holy man of Punjab was Baba Dilip Singh Menhasji, whose samadhi  (final resting place) is located at the Chamliyal Indo-Pak border on the Indian side close to the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) outpost. This place has been regularly visited by Pakistanis. However, their visits were disrupted by the 1971 war. Last week Pakistani visitors at the mausoleum were received with such warmth and affection that those who had lived in united India thought for a while that India was never divided at all.

One newspaper reporter, Suresh S. Duggar, wrote in the Hindustan (Hindi) that Pakistani Rangers (border guards) and their Indian counterparts, BSF personnel, embraced each other. The Pakistanis traditionally bring sugar and sherbet  as present for the mausoleum. On all ceremonial occasions the BSF play their song, "We the border defenders...". The Pak Rangers had told the BSF that they would come to the mausoleum only if the BSF did not play their song. The BSF agreed and refrained from singing it.

Duggar reported an old man saying, "The Musharraf-Manmohan peace bid seems to be working". Thousands of people had gathered to witness the mela  (annual fair) at Baba Dilip Singhji’s mausoleum in Ramgarh Sector of the border, about 45 km away from Jammu. It is time to allow the message of peace and healing to work after so much of strife. People like Baba Dilip Singh Menhasji and (presently) Baba Virsa Singhji are worthy of the love and respect they get.

Mohd. Zeyaul Haque


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