Sikhs living in Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency have reportedly paid Rs 20 million as “jazia” to the Taliban, a tax previously levied by Mughal rulers on non-Muslims to exempt them from military service and protect their person in the sub-continent.
The Daily Times, a Pakistani newspaper, reported on Thursday that “detained” Sikh leader Sardar Saiwang Singh was released by the Taliban, who also vacated the community’s houses occupied by them.
They also announced protection for the Sikh community, saying no one would harm them after they paid “jazia”. Sikhs who had left the agency would now return and resume their business in the Agency, which is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in north-western Pakistan, the paper added.
“The Taliban don’t have a state, so they can’t impose jazia,” Lucknow-based historian Salim Kidwai told the HT.
The Mughal ruler, Akbar, abolished jazia on his subjects, which was re-imposed by Aurangzeb in the 17th century.
In Amritsar, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary Dilmegh Singh quoted the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Bishen Singh as saying that more than 200 Sikhs and Hindus had taken shelter in gurdwaras in Nankan Sahib and Peshawar.
Meanwhile, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani to ensure the security of Sikhs and Hindus in the trouble-torn country.
With inputs from agencies