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Delhi’s gurdwara body comes to the aid of displaced Sikhs in Assam

Financial help to repair historic Sikh gurdwaras in Assam and assistance to Assamese Sikhs to go on pilgrimage to prominent religious sites as given to other minority communities were among the demands

india Updated: Sep 02, 2017 00:28 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam,Gurdwara,Assamese Sikhs
Manjinder Singh Sirsa (with scarf) of Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee, during his visit to Assam.(HT Photo)

They came to Assam from Punjab nearly 200 years ago as soldiers but settled down and assimilated into Assamese society while retaining their religious identity. Now, Assamese Sikhs, who number around 12,000, fear losing their unique identity and want special status and facilities from the state government.

They found a voice this week through a delegation of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) that met chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and apprised him of the problems faced by the Assamese Sikhs.

“The Assamese Sikhs are a microscopic minority community but they have been ignored by successive governments. If this continues, the community may become extinct,” said DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

Taking note of a report in Hindustan Times ahead of last year’s assembly polls on how the community gets neglected by parties and successive state governments, the DSGMC reached out to the Assamese Sikhs .

Apart from special status, the delegation wants setting up of a world-class education complex at Borkhola in Nagaon for the community and reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. They also sought reservation in the state assembly, urban and rural local bodies, establishment of a skill development centre and plots of land in Guwahati and Nagaon to set up social welfare projects.

Financial help to repair historic Sikh gurdwaras in Assam and assistance to Assamese Sikhs to go on pilgrimage to prominent religious sites as given to other minority communities were among the demands.

“The chief minister gave a very patient hearing and assured us that the problems faced by the community would be addressed. He also appointed a senior IAS officer as nodal officer to look into and implement our demands,” said Sirsa. Most of the Assamese Sikhs are descendants of 500 soldiers who were sent by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab to help Ahom king Chandra Kanta Singha fight invaders in 1822.

First Published: Sep 02, 2017 00:28 IST