Kurram Agency – UNITED SIKHS Blog https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog Recognize The Human Race As One Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sikhs of Peshwar Break their Silence. UNITED SIKHS steps up Advocacy https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/07/sikhs-of-peshwar-break-their-silence-united-sikhs-stems-up-advocacy/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/07/sikhs-of-peshwar-break-their-silence-united-sikhs-stems-up-advocacy/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 18:51:53 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=375 sikhsinpeshwargurd16th of July 2009, Pesahwar,  Pakistan:   In the third visit to meet the Sikhs in Peshawar the Sikhs broke out their silence of their situation and gave a detailed saga of the kidnapping of  Kalyan Singh.

Displacement of Sikhs from Orakzai and Kurram Agency:
See video: http://vimeo.com/5607143
Currently approximately 700  Sikh families live in Peshawar.  95% of the Sikh families are Amritdhari Sikhs.  After the war with Taliban 12 families from Orakzai Agency and one from district Bunair took shelter at Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara in Peshawar. These families were accommodated to the homes of the Sikhs in Peshawar with their relatives  and friends. The affected people came in just their dress’s that they were wearing.  The Sikhs from Orakzai Agency left because of the kidnapping of Kalyan Singh by the Taliban.

Kidnapping of Kalyan Singh:

Kalyan Singh is aged around 75 and has 4 children.  The Taliban asked them to pay Rs 5.20 crores (PKR). Going to the police is useless as they are not affective against the Taliban by any means. Even the local tribesmen of Orakzai who were to give protection to the minorities were no match to the Taliban. The Sikhs argued and settled for a minimal amount of Rs 60 lakhs. This money came collectively from the Orakzai Sikhs, the Sikhs from Peshawar, Gurdwara Saheb Bhai Joga Singh Peshawar, and the Muslim community (as an interest free loan) who knew the Sikh families from Orakzai.  All the local Sikh families were asked to collect together and their elder representative was asked to meet with the appointed Taliban commander-in-charge. Kalyan Singh was selected and asked to represent them.  Three  demands were placed to Kalyan Singh, to be placed to the Sikh community of Orakazai.

1) Convert to Islam, 2) Fight the Taliban, 3) Pay a yearly tax, also referred to as Jaziya for the minorities

Initially the Sikh families outrightly rejected all the three demands. In retaliation the Taliban kidnapped Kalyan Singh, right after the meeting, and he was held in their captivity for 16 days.  Being an Amritdhari Sikh, Kalyan Singh didn’t eat food for 3 days, after which he was allowed cooked food from his home.

Escape of Mr Kalyan Singh and the Sikhs from Orakzai
On not getting the 60 lakhs, the Taliban on the request of the local Muslims, allowed Kalyan Singh to go home and payback the remaining amount of 40 lakhs.  Kalyan Singh was informed that in case the Sikhs refused to pay this amount, their homes would be broken, the male Sikh members would be killed and their women would become their property. Kalyan Singh knew that they would not be able to pay the remaining amount and hence fled with the other Sikhs from Orakzai with the only belongings being the clothes that  they were wearing,  their immediate belongings that they could gather, their holy books (gutkas), and the Guru Granth Saheb Ji (Parkash at home) to Peshwar. The Sikh families reached Peshawar at 5 am in the morning, after an arduous 8 hour journey, travelling through off roads.

Problems currently faced by them and advocacy requirements met by UNITED SIKHS

The Sikhs fear of going back to the Orakzai Agency as they are afraid that the Taliban who will hide high in the mountains and escape from the war will come back and ask them for the remaining amount. Since they have never seen any state governance offering protection, today, their minds are not to go back to Orakazai. The feedback they have received is that their home goods have been auctioned and their homes broken.  The army has started its operations just a few days back in Orakzai Agency.  The Orakzai Sikhs and the Kurram Agency Sikhs were not even considered as Internally Displaced People (IDP) by the local government. In other words, these displaced, jobless Sikhs from Orakzai are caught in a state where they don’t know what their classification would be. UNITED SIKHS met with the Ministry of Population of Welfare, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and the CEO of NATPOW and have been promised that this would be looked into. UNITED SIKHS has also written to the Minister of Minority Affairs in Pakistan and will advocate for their cause to be recognized and will assist in speeding up their registration process with the government agency.

Sandeep Singh
Sikh Aid, Pakistan
Email: contact@unitedsikhs.org

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