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Minorities commission delegation visits disputed Arunachal site claimed by Buddhists, Sikhs | India News – Times of India

AMRITSAR: A delegation of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) visited Menchukha, a small town nestled in the Shi Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh, which has become a hotbed of controversy surrounding the identification of a religious site claimed by both the Sikh and Buddhist communities.
The NCM delegation visited the site in an effort to resolve the dispute and gain a deeper understanding of the situation.
The delegation comprising of Kersi Kaikhushroo Deboo, vice-chairman of the NCM, and Rinchen Lahmo, a Buddhist member, visited the site with the primary objective to meet with local community leaders and senior Buddhist monks, and to gather information and assess the historical context of the disputed site.
However, the representative from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was conspicuous with his absence, which also raised questions about its commitment to resolving the issue through dialogue and mutual understanding.
During their visit on Thursday, the NCM delegation paid a visit to the controversial site located in the Neh-Pema Shelpu area of Menchukha.
To shed light on the historical significance of the area, Norbu Tsering Naksang, president of the Neh Nang Cultural Development Society (NCDS) said that they presented a compelling evidence supporting the Memba community’s claim to the site.
Notably, the controversy surrounding the disputed religious site in Menchukha escalated when chief minister Pema Khandu visited the shrine recently and shared photographs of his visit on social media. This action caught the attention of the SGPC, which accused the Memba community of converting the gurdwara into a Buddhist shrine. The SGPC claimed that the gurdwara was built in the 1980s at the place where Sikh’s first master Guru Nanak Dev had visited during one of his Udhasis (travels). According to the SGPC, the gurdwara was transformed into a Buddhist place of worship by the Memba community. The SGPC’s accusations added a new dimension to the already complex issue, sparking further debate and intensifying the dispute between the Sikh and Buddhist communities.
Naksang explained that since the migration of the Memba tribe, the Neh-Pema Shelpu area has been revered as a sacred pilgrimage site for the Buddhist community.
“The migration 22 King system was introduced many generations ago but the SGPC is now claiming our Neh Pema Shelpu area as their site,” he said.
He added that the SGPC’s claims lack substantiating evidence, historical records, or any credible background supporting their stance. In stark contrast, the Memba community and the Buddhist residents of Menchukha and its surrounding areas possess an extensive collection of well-documented historical records, affirming their historical connection to the site, he claimed.
Besides Norbu Tsering Naksang, others who attended the meeting included Dzogchan Thinlley Norbu Naksang (Rinpoche), spiritual leader and influential figure, Gebu Onge, chairman of the Onge Welfare Society and the landowner of the disputed area, as well as other prominent figures such as Sange Sona, Cheedan Goiba, Sange Chukla, Pema Khandu Kigar (office bearers of NCDC), Pema Chonga Knger, Pema Sona (senior monks), and Tenzen Norbu Philley, president of All Memba Students’ Union.
The Memba community conveyed their grievances to the NCM delegation, requesting their intervention in resolving the dispute and safeguarding the integrity of their religious and cultural heritage, said he. “The delegation was provided with detailed historical documentation, further reinforcing the Memba community’s long-standing connection to the Neh-Pema Shelpu area.
On the other hand, the SGPC general secretary, G S Garewal, stated that no delegation was sent to Menchukha due to their ongoing efforts to secure an appointment with the CM of Arunachal Pradesh. They hope to engage in direct dialogue with the CM to discuss the matter in depth. “This is a state matter and we want to have a direct dialogue with the CM and we are prepared for the same with all details and documentations,” said Garewal.

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