Sikhs living in Tral valley of Jammu and Kashmir are feeling unsafe with the region on the boil after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8.
Kulwant Singh, 54, a resident of Mungama village, 40 kilometre from the capital Srinagar, spoke to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal over telephone and asked him to take up the matter of their security with the Centre.
Kulwant Singh, who works at the Canara Bank in Sopore, said 400 Sikh families are residing in his village. He said they all are under constant threat, as local Muslim community has been taking out processions every day, brandishing weapons and raising pro-Pakistan slogans.
The chief minister’s office (CMO) said Badal has asked Sikhs residing in 39 villages of Tral valley to send a delegation to Chandigarh to discuss the matter with Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president and him. Following this, the government will take up the matter with its J&K counterparts and the Centre, said sources.
Talking to HT over phone, Kulwant Singh said: “Sikh women are virtually under house arrest. If anyone raises voice against them (Muslim community), they damage our houses and beat us up.” Kulwant Singh, whose forefathers have been living in Kashmir for three centuries, alleged the local population “don’t want us to live here”.
“There is no security here, police have already moved out of Tral valley, and there are no signs of the army either,” said Kulwant Singh. He said a week ago a historic gurdwara was damaged after a group of youngsters started pelting stones when Sikhs gathered there.
Avtar Singh, another resident of Tral valley, too, complained of lack of security for Sikhs, who are a thin minority in the region.
“Muslims target Sikh homes, raise slogans outside our houses, and if we oppose they damage our houses,” he told HT.
“All attempts of talks with the Muslim brethren have failed because youngsters are leading the protests and they don’t want to listen,” said another Sikh resident, on the condition of anonymity.
‘Sikhs have been marginalised’
Kulwant Singh said he had sent his daughters to study in Punjab to ensure their safety. One is pursuing MTech from a college in Fatehgarh Sahib and the other MBBS in Amritsar.
“All Sikhs are not privileged as I am. They don’t have the means to send their children away for studies. There was a time when Sikhs in Tral valley were well to do. During the unending turmoil, the majority community has marginalised us. Our businesses have failed and most Sikh families are hand to mouth. They just want to move out of here now,” he said.
No need to be intimidated: SSP
Avantipura senior superintendent of police Zahid Malik, under whose jurisdiction the villages fall, told HT there was no need for anyone to be afraid or intimidated. “No one has contacted me so far. In case anybody feels threatened, they can contact me. In fact, we have posted a Sikh station house officer (SHO) in Tral valley to build confidence among the minority community,” he said.