Misappropriation of Buddhist shrine

The controversy surrounding a religious shrine in Mechukha in Shi-Yomi district claimed by both the local Memba and Sikh communities is an example of how distortion of history by outsiders poses a serious threat to the tribal communities. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) lodged a complaint with the National Commission for Minorities that a historical site associated with Guru Nanak Dev in Mechukha has been converted into a Buddhist temple. This complaint was made when a Buddhist pilgrimage site of the Memba community, known as Neh-Pema Shelphu, which the SGPC claims to be a Sikh shrine, was returned to the Buddhist community last year.

It is said that the Sikh Regiment, when it was posted in Mechukha, turned the place into a Sikh shrine in the late ’80s. The locals allege that it was done without the consent of the local Memba community who consider the place as a Buddhist religious place and have been worshipping there ever since they settled down in Mechukha valley. The matter was peacefully resolved between the Sikh and Buddhist communities with the intervention of the Indian Army. But now the SGPC is taking it in a different direction, which is wrong. This whole incident also shows how outsiders can distort history to suit their narratives while trying to take the land belonging to indigenous people in the state. The government should look into it and find ways to ensure that such things are not repeated in future.