Pakistani Taliban behead two Sikhs for not paying levy

published on February 21, 2010

Peshawar/Islamabad – Daily Pioneer

Two Sikhs who were kidnapped over a month back have been beheaded by the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s restive tribal belt in a brutal act by the militants.

Some more members of the minority community are still in the custody of the rebels. The body of Jaspal Singh was found in the Khyber tribal region, located a short distance from the provincial capital of Peshawar, while the body of Mahal Singh was found in the Aurakzai Agency, sources told PTI on Sunday night.

There was confusion about the total number of Sikhs who were kidnapped for ransom from the Bara area of Khyber Agency by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. A source said four Sikhs were abducted while another report said the total number of kidnapped persons was six.

The Sikhs were kidnapped 34 days ago and the Taliban had demanded Rs 30 million as ransom for their release. Two of the kidnapped Sikhs were beheaded after the expiry of the deadline for the payment of the ransom, sources said.

Gurvinder Singh and Gurjit Singh are still in the custody of the militants, sources said.

The kidnapping occurred in an area where the Government has virtually no control and the militants are in a dominant position, sources said. A sizeable number of Sikhs lived in the tribal belt, particularly Aurakzai Agency, till the Taliban imposed ‘jiziya’ or religious tax on them last year. Most members of the community then fled to cities across Pakistan.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Taliban had dumped the heads of the two victims at a Gurudwara in Peshawar. An estimated 10,000 Sikhs, descendants of those who chose not to move to India during the partition in 1947, live in NWFP and tribal areas. In 2009, the Taliban in NWFP forced the minority Sikh population to pay it lakhs of rupees as religious tax.

Brig Mehmood Shah, former security secretary of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, described the Taliban act as horrendous and said it must be condemned in the strongest terms.

“It is really a horrendous act. It is really shameful,” he told a TV channel.

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