The final handing over of the Dharmastal at Gurudongmar by the Army to Lachen Dzumsa in April 2001.

Mangan, 21 Aug:

The Lachen Dzumsa has clarified that the recent “spin” given to developments in North Sikkim vis a vis the “Dharmastal” on the shores of Gurudongmar and the Chungthang Gurudwara were ill-informed interpretations of what actually transpired there on 16 August. There has been no eviction or disrespectful removal of Sikh religious items from anywhere, they insist, stressing that any misrepresentation of facts was mischievous and condemnable for the ill-will it could cause.

At the root of the confusion is a video being circulated online which claims to show the religious items of a Gurudwara being evicted and kept on the road.

The Lachen Dzumsa today clarified that this was in fact the handing over of Sikh religious items left behind at the Dharmastal at Gurudongmar which had been “respectfully” packed, tied in khadas and brought to the Chungthang Gurudwara for safe-keeping.

The Dharmastal, it is informed is being renovated and the Buddhist items housed there have also been similarly taken and kept at the Lachen Monastery.

To suggest that any eviction has taken place from any Gurudwara or any disrespect shown to any faith or to items held in reverence by them is wrong, Dzumsa members said while speaking to SummitTimes today.

As for the Dharmastal itself, a press communiqué from the Lachen Dzumsa, which includes the relevant government documents, informs that the Dharmastal/ Shrine had been handed over by the Indian army to the Dzumsa back in July 2001. The question of eviction hence does not arise, they add.

Since then, the Dzumsa and the Lachen public have been planning to renovate the complex, a project which is now being initiated in earnest and for which the complex was to be emptied for the designers and engineers to begin their work.

Accordingly, after prayers performed there by monks from Lachen, the entire complex was emptied and all the Sikh religious items still there, along with Buddhist religious items, were packed with reverence, wrapped in khadas and taken away. The Sikh items were handed over to the Chungthang Gurudwara on 16 Aug, they inform.

Lachen Dzumsa has reiterated that the question of forceful removal does not arise as the handing and taking over from the Army was completed on 06 July 2001, fifteen years ago.

The process of handing over the Dharmastal to Lachen Monastery had begun on 12 December 2000 in the presence of the tehn Deputy Speaker and Sangha MLA, Palden Lachungpa, Minister of Power Department and MLA, Hishey Lachungpa, Minister of Land Revenue & Toursim, KT Gyaltsen, Pachayat Adhakshya and Deputy Adhakshya [North], representative of Lachen Monastery and public of Lachen and Army Commanding Officer Incharge of the area.

It has not helped matters that there was also some confusion over the Gurudwara construction at Chungthang, but even this issue was resolved and the residents of Chungthang highlight it as further evidence of the fact that no ill-will is intended against the Sikh faith.

Some confusion had arisen there when the Chungthang Monastery committee and the public were stopped by people from the Gurudwara from carrying out demarcation of their boundaries. The matter was brought to the Sub Divisional Magistrate Chungthang and when Land parchas of the Chungthang Monastery was produced, it appeared that a portion of its land had been encroached in the Gurudwara construction. A new Gurudwara was constructed at the site of the older one in 2012.

Despite this situation, and after encroachment was officially established, the locals, including the monastery, have not insisted on any demolitions or penalties since a place of worship has already been constructed, they point out.

“In spite of tribal land being illegally occupied, we have not been taken them to court,” they share.