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Dwindling Sikh community faces "existential crisis"
5aaban posted a topic in POLITICS | LIFESTYLEhttps://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/sikh-community-faces-existential-crisis-in-pakistan-101654007355224.html Sikh community faces 'existential crisis' in Pakistan In a brutal incident on May 15 recently, two Sikh traders--Kuljeet and Ranjit Singh- - were murdered on the outskirts of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, Asian Lite International reported. According to Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, there are just 15,000-20,000 Sikhs estimated to be left in Pakistan of which some 500 Sikh households are in Peshawar. Published on May 31, 2022 08:06 PM IST Islamic outfits have made an unlivable environment for religious minorities in Pakistan through targeted killings, abductions and forced conversions. Attacks on Sikhs have become a regular affair in the country and it has triggered tension among communities. In a brutal incident on May 15 recently, two Sikh traders--Kuljeet and Ranjit Singh- - were murdered on the outskirts of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, Asian Lite International reported. This was the 'twelfth' such incident since 2014 when Sikhs were targeted by extremists in KP province alone. Moreover, in September last year, Satnam Singh, a Sikh Unani medicine practitioner was shot down inside his clinic in Peshawar, the report added, citing the local community. The Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) took the responsibility for the attack. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also strongly condemned the murders and said in a statement, "This is not the first time that the Sikh community in KP has been targeted and we demand that the KP police identify and arrest the perpetrators promptly." The Sikh population in Pakistan is in a vulnerable state and has seen a massive decline in the last two decades amid rising cases of forced conversions and targeted attacks by the Islamic outfits because of their unique religious identifications and their population accumulation in unsafe areas of KP. World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) also condemned the Peshawar killings and expressed deep concerns for the safety of Pakistan's Sikh community. In their statement, the WSO stated that Sikhs in Pakistan are "feeling vulnerable and unsafe." Moreover, "they do not know if they will return home safely, if they go out." Most of the Sikhs in KP come from a financially weak background and run small grocery shops or work as Hakeems. Migrating to a safer place is becoming a compulsion for them as Pakistan does not guarantee their security in the region anymore, Asian Lite said. According to Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, there are just 15,000-20,000 Sikhs estimated to be left in Pakistan of which some 500 Sikh households are in Peshawar. In January 2020, a violent mob attacked one of the holiest Sikh shrines, Nankana Sahib Gurudwara, in Punjab province, and the horrific attack terrorized Sikhs across Pakistan because it made them realize that Punjab was not safe anymore. Amid the growing demands of imposing 'Sharia Law' in the country and the constant ascent in atrocities against Sikh minorities has shrunk space for them to survive in Pakistan, growing disenchantment among minority communities in Pakistan, especially among Sikhs, who thought that they could co-exist peacefully along with majority Muslims. Pakistan is witnessing a new wave of terrorism with several incidents of target killings of Sikh and Shia minorities reported in the Peshawar region in recent years. The previous governments in Pakistan abandoned the execution of the National Action Plan (NAP) which was meant to be put in place to carry out a crackdown on terrorism giving rise to horrific incidents taking place against minorities in the nation. Religious minorities in Pakistan are often treated as 'second-class' citizens, Asian Lite International reported.
Pak body warns against 'Indian' intervention in Sikh affairs Amritsar: Reacting sharply to the "Indian" intervention in its internal religious affairs, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) condemned Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for making circumstances "difficult" for Pakistani Sikhs and suggested that it stay away from their matters. PSGPC's controversial general secretary Gopal Singh Chawla, who was in news in the recent past for his close relations with Jamaat-ud-Daawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai's 26/11 terror attack, in a message posted on social media on Tuesday warned Makkar against meddling into the Sikhs affairs in Pakistan. Chawla was reacting to Makkar's reported statement of forming a panel to look into the allegations against former PSGPC president Mastan Singh, who was recently arrested under blasphemy charges. Mastan was arrested on December 18 by Nanakana Sahib police under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including 23A and 295 A. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has already come out in support of Mastan. "We are taking suggestions from legal experts and would even go up to the extent of moving international court to free Mastan Singh," DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK told TOI. He said Mastan had stopped Khalistan supporters from delivering venomous speeches against India from the religious stage during the recently concluded birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib. Chawla had claimed that Khalistani voices were raised at much higher pitch than in earlier years. "Mastan Singh is one of us. We will get him out of jail, but will not allow SGPC to interfere in the affairs of Sikhs of Pakistan," he said in his video post. A day after Mastan's arrest, a large number of his supporters, including members of newly-constituted body Singh Style, held a meeting and later gheraoed the Nankana Sahib police station. They had also protested against the officials of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), including its chairman Siddique-ul-Farooq blaming him for grabbing gurdwara properties. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Pak-body-warns-against-Indian-intervention-in-Sikh-affairs/articleshow/50295045.cms
A Pakistani Punjab police spokesperson said Mr. Mastan was arrested under blasphemy law. However, he did not specify when the arrest was made. A former Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandak Committee president has been arrested under blasphemy law for allegedly attacking a Gurdwara in Nankana Sahib in the Punjab province and chanting anti-Pakistan slogans. Police have registered a blasphemy case against Sardar Mastan Singh and his 25 accomplices, mostly Sikhs, for allegedly attacking a Gurdwara in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhisms founder Guru Nanak, on the complaint of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (PSGPC) incumbent president Sardar Sham Singh. A Punjab police spokesperson said Mr. Mastan was arrested under blasphemy law. However, he did not specify when the arrest was made. Nankana City Police have registered an FIR against Mastan Singh and 25 of his accomplices under sections 123A (anti-state slogans) 295A (injuring or defiling places of worship) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Some other sections of PPC have also been included in the FIR, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Deputy Director (shrines) Imran Khan told PTI on Saturday. He said Mr. Mastan was arrested on Friday and the police is carrying out raids to nab other suspects. Mr. Khan said Mr. Mastan and his accomplices had attacked a Gurdwara and smashed windows and doors of some rooms when the festivities on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak were underway last month. A source in ETPB, which looks after the holy places of minorities in the country, said the action against Mr. Mastan had been taken for protesting before the government functionaries in Nankana Sahib. Mastan is paying for his violent protest, he said. A few years ago Mr. Mastan was arrested in Lahore for allegedly embezzling Rs 500,000 when he was PSGPC chief. Mr. Mastans counsel had pleaded that the ETPB senior official had a personal grudge against Mr. Mastan and they wanted to settle an old score with him. He was later released as the department could not prove the charges against him.