February 22nd, 2010 by Ravi Matah | Posted in News   No Comments »
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 Two sikh gentlemen named Jaspal Singh and Mahal Singh, were killed by the Taliban in Peshawar. Jaspal’s  cousin,  Arvinder Singh was  on a visit to India and is now on his way back to Pakistan, told media that the conditions in Pakistan were not conducive for Sikhs to live peacefully. “Sikhs are not treated well. Jaspal Singh, who was killed, is my cousin and now we want Indian citizenship,” he said. 

Special prayers were held  in Gurudwaras across Punjab on Monday morning and there was outrage at the abduction and brutal beheading of Sikh youths in Pakistan’s Peshawar by the Taliban. 

The Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) has appealed to the Government of India to take up the matter with Pakistan saying they will not tolerate any more incidents like this in future. The SGPC is trying to establish contact with Sikhs in Pakistan to find out more about their condition. 

“A delegation of the SGPC should be given permission to go there and find out what exactly happened. The Indian government should take up the matter,” said Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC chief. Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has promised to take the matter up with the Central government. 

“There are certain people, who do not want peace in Punjab, though three people have been kidnapped, one was killed. We will investigate the case,” he said. Some media agencies have confirmed that two Sikhs have been killed. 

For many years there has not been migration of Sikhs from Pakistan. But this incident may well force the community to reconsider its options. 

India, on Monday condemned the beheading of Sikh youths by the Pakistani Taliban, and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said the incident will figure in talks between India and Pakistan later this week. 

“All issues concerning the relations between the two countries, depending upon the time permitting, will be taken up for discussion,” he said. 

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, too, has condemned the act. Speaking on Sikhs beheading by Taliban, she said: “We seek more facts and terrorism will be part of upcoming Indo-Pak talks.” 

The talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries are to be held on 25th Feb in New Delhi. 

The shocking incident is said to have taken place in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. 

According to sources, the Sikhs – all of them Pakistani citizens – were beheaded and their heads were thrown into a common area to invoke fear among the locals. 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 said. 

There was some 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, media reports said. 

“According to the information we have, three Sikhs were kidnapped by the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Area. One of them was murdered by them and they sent his body to Peshawar.” 

He added: “The other two people are with Taliban and we are trying to contact them but they have not made any demand for the release of these people. We have been trying since the last 15 days, but they have never asked for money or any other demand.” 

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.   

An estimated 10,000 Sikhs lived in the NWFP and in the tribal belt, particularly Aurakzai Agency, till the Taliban imposed ‘jizya’ or religious tax on them last year. Most members of the community then fled to cities across Pakistan.

Ravi Matah

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