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Mumbai Sikhs Outraged, appeal to Pak ambassador
February 27 , 2010


Demands High Level delegation visit and exmplary compensation

Angry and benumbed at the killing and abduction of Sikhs in Pakistan at the hands of marauding thugs, who are looting and killing Sikhs, Hindus and even Muslims too in the North West Frontier Province of Peshawar area of Pakistan, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Mumbai has written to Mr. Shahid Mailk, the High Commissioner of Pakistan in India seeking immediate cessation of violence against the Sikhs in Pakistan by the Taliban. The full text of the letter is as follows:

His Excellency Mr. Shahid Malik
High Commissioner for Pakistan in India
New Delhi

The Sikh community of Mumbai is deeply concerned over the barbaric decapitation of Jaspal Singh, a resident of Dabagree Garden, Peshawar. According to information gathered by United Sikhs –a UN affiliated Sikh body, he was one of the three Sikhs who were abducted by Pakistan Taliban approximately 41 days ago and held for ransom. According to them, two more abductees Gurvinder Singh and his uncle Surjeet Singh are reported to be still in the custody of the Taliban, pending the payment of ransom by their families.

These three Sikhs were on a family visit to Khyber Agency when the Taliban kidnapped them on the Chora Tanga Akaakhel area on 21 January 2010. Fearful of the repercussions, the Sikh community there did not report this incident either to the authorities or to the media and were bargaining to secure their release by paying up what they could as the amount of Rupees 20 million was far too high for them.

As we write to you, there is news that another Sikh has been abducted in the North West Frontier Province. Robin Singh –a computer engineer from the Swat valley has been abducted from the University Road, near Nowshera, and it is feared that may be more are in the captivity of the Taliban. There is another report that a Pakistani Hindu man has also been kidnapped. There is a genuine fear amongst the Sikhs that perhaps the number of those kidnapped may be higher than is known to the world.

Whether these acts were for obtaining Jaziya or for forcible conversion to Islam, Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Regd.) Mumbai strongly condemns these heinous acts and appeals to the Taliban groups to stop all offensive against the Sikhs.

Sikhs living in the Tirah valley of Khyber agency, with business interests in Peshawar, Hangu, Swat and other parts of the tribal belt are living in the shadow of fear and repression of the Taliban for long without the effective intervention of the government of Pakistan.

The killing of the Jaspal Singh has sent shock waves within the community. The warmth with which Sikh Jathas are received in Pakistan at the time of Gurpurabs and other Sikh festivals has always been appreciated and applauded by the Sikhs and they could never imagine that history would take such a turn and that too for those Sikhs, who in the worst scenario of 1947, chose to stay back in their home and hearth, despite their tiny numbers.

We believe that it is time for diplomatic and political dialogue. We do not want to resort to rhetoric and would urge your government to initiate fresh and immediate steps to ensure safety of life and property of Sikhs. Without any delay, the Pakistan Embassy in India must inform the Sikh world of the true status of the Sikhs in NWFP in particular and in Pakistan in general. The exact number and identity of those brutally killed and the steps taken by the Pakistan government must be known to the Sikhs across the world.

We take some solace from the fact that Janab Asif Ali Zardari -the President of Pakistan has condemned the incident and “has ordered the authorities to apprehend the culprits to prevent its recurrence.”

It is equally comforting to know that your government’s Minister for Minorities, Janab Shahbaz Bhatti has ordered a high-level enquiry and has promised that whoever is involved will be severely punished. It is significant that he has stated that, “we pledge to protect minorities in Pakistan. The Sikhs living here belong to Pakistan and Pakistan belongs to them. We respect everyone’s religious freedom.”

The government of Pakistan must follow up their promises without delay and take effective action to ensure the safety of those in captivity, as the shattered confidence of the Sikhs needs immediate succour. We request your government to allow a delegation of Sikhs to visit Peshawar and NWFP, to enable them to talk to all concerned.

The exorbitant Jaziya tax being imposed by the Taliban groups is not only unfair but un-Islamic as well. Sri Guru Singh Sabha Mumbai requests your government to pay exemplary compensation –more than what was demanded by the Taliban to the families of the deceased and intervene immediately to save the lives of those abducted recently.

Muslim groups which are part of the Civil Liberties Monitoring committee, based in Hyderabad in India have expressed “deep concern over the violation of human rights in Pakistan and has termed the beheading of two Sikhs after kidnapping them as an inhuman act and grave violation of Islamic teachings on which Pakistan was established.” Echoing the demands of all civilized society, the Committee has demanded that, “the Government of Pakistan should take appropriate measures to provide special protection to the minorities in Pakistan and restore their confidence and should ensure their safety and security”

Sri Guru Singh Sabha Mumbai appreciates the reported stand of Asif Bhatti, an Awami National Party (ANP) legislator in the NWFP assembly, who has said that, “We will up take the issue in the House." Condemning the cold-blooded murder of two Sikhs who were abducted by Taliban militants in the Khyber tribal agency, Bhatti appealed to the president to ensure that the killers are brought to a court of law and given exemplary punishment.

Almost a year ago, the homes of 35 families in the Orakazai Agency in Pakistan’s NWFP were burnt down and according to newspaper reports, apart from temporary relief, nothing much was done for the Sikhs and other minorities who were uprooted.

We understand that these are difficult times, but it is in times like these that good and effective governance is required and we urge your government’s positive and quick intervention, as the situation has all the portents to go out of hands, harming the cause of peace, pluralism and centuries-old bond of affinity between communities.

Kulwant Singh
General Secretary
Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Regd.) Mumbai

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