What next – A Sikh Exodus from Kashmir?

published on August 23, 2010

Sikhs in Kashmir Valley feel unsafe: Community leaders


JAMMU: Rubbishing claims of the Jammu and Kashmir government that Sikhs in the valley had nothing to fear, several leaders of the community on Monday said that they were facing “acute harassment at the hands of miscreants” in the valley.

The community leaders, who had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last week and apprised him of the “prevailing situation in the valley”, made it clear that Sikhs in the valley were facing acute “harassment at the hands of miscreants” who pelt their vehicles with stones.

The delegation, led by Ranjit Singh Sarhadi, chairman of Guru Nanak Foundation, a prominent group of Sikhs in the valley, told the prime minister that the “miscreants were having a field day” in the valley as “the government was non-existent”.

Addressing a press conference in Jammu Monday, Sarhadi pointed to the pasting of posters outside the houses of Sikhs in some parts of the valley, including Srinagar, threatening the community members. “This is not something to be dismissed as an ordinary thing.”

However, the delegation leaders also acknowledged that they were aware that some political groups were trying to “communalise the issue”.

“We are feeling unsafe. That’s a fact. At the same time, the elements are out there to communalise the situation, that also is a fact,” Sarhadi said.

Earlier, the Omar Abdullah government had said there was “no truth” in the news of the threat to Sikhs in the valley. It had also assured full protection to the 60,000 Sikh community, the largest minority in the Valley after 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled their homes in 1990s under fear of persecution by Islamic militants.

Thirty-five Sikhs were massacred at Chittisinghpora, a village in south Kashmir in March 2000 when the then US president Bill Clinton was on a visit to India.

More than 200 Kashmiri Hindus were killed in the Valley in the last 20 years – initially there were select killings, which were later followed by massacres in 1997, 1998 and 2003.

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