PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has stopped the Pakistan government from auctioning off for business a portion of the historic Gurdwara Bhai Biba Singh in Peshawar.

The historic Gurdwara Sahib is located at Chakka Gali, Hashtnagri, Peshawar and is said to have been established at the time of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has gone to court. The committee’s members include Sahib Singh, Baba Gupal Singh, Darshan Singh, Hardyal Singh and Biba Singh.

On July 18, the deputy administrator of the Evacuee Trust Property Board auctioned a portion of land inside the Gurdwara complex to someone who wanted to use it for a business. The Board issued a letter on November 20 allotting the land.

During the case hearing on Friday, the lawyer for the petitioners argued that the Sikhs have been performing their religious obligations at the Gurdwara Bhai Biba Singh from before Partition. He informed the court that after the Board issued an allotment letter, an SHO came to take possession of the land but the petitioners resisted.

The court summoned the SHO of Hashtnagri and told him he could not take over the land. The auction has been stayed.

The division bench of Justices Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali issued the stay order restraining the Evacuee Trust Property Board from taking over the portion of land.

The court put on notice the federal government through the secretary of religious affairs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through the chief secretary, the Evacuee Trust Property Board through its chairman, the deputy secretary of the ETPB Lahore and the deputy administrator of the ETPB in Peshawar. They are supposed to submit replies before the next hearing.

The 300-year-old Gurdwara Bhai Biba Singh was reopened in 2016 for the first time after Partition after renovation work. It was built during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Gurdwara was one of the most visited places of worship for Sikhs for centuries prior Partition. After 1947, many Sikh families migrated to Rawalpindi, Hasan Abdal, and Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies.