Committed to safety of Sikhs in Kashmir, says Pranab | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Committed to safety of Sikhs in Kashmir, says Pranab

delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2010 14:06 IST

The government on Friday said it was committed to the safety of minority Sikh community in the troubled Kashmir Valley where some Sikh families have reportedly received anonymous letters from extremists asking them to either embrace Islam or pack up.

"The government is fully aware of it. Not only the Muslims of the valley but whole India will rise to protect Sikhs. It is a small section of terrorists and extremists (that has threatened the Sikhs) and I assure you that nobody is with them," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha after an uproar in the house.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Rattan Singh Ajnala raised the issue in the Lok Sabha as soon as the house met at 11 a.m.

Ajnala referred to media reports that the letters threatened the Sikhs if they didn't join the on-going protests against civilian killings in the valley.

The SAD member said Sikhs had "offered maximum sacrifices in India-Pakistan battle and this is what we are getting in return".

National Conference MP from Kashmir Mehboob Beg condemned the incident and said the "entire Kashmir Muslim community was with their Sikh brethren and will ensure their safety at any cost".

"After I read the report, I feel we are as much hurt as you are. Every Kashmiri Muslim will fight against it. This is a conspiracy by a few extremist elements to damage the communal harmony in the valley," Beg said.

The 60,000-strong Sikh community is the single largest minority group in the valley after Hindus fled in early 1990s when the armed separatist war backed by Pakistan erupted in Jammu and Kashmir.

The All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (ASCC) has alleged that several community members have received these letters.

Leader of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat group Syed Ali Shah Geelani has reassured the community that they should not feel threatened and ignore the "fake letters". He has assured the community that nobody would force them to join the protests.