Sikhs living in the Kashmir valley are being ignored by both the Central and State governments, even as they live in fear-psychosis and with no attention being paid to their problems, alleged leaders of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee here.
They demanded adequate representation in the government at all levels. “The Sikhs of Kashmir Valley live under fear-psychosis mainly due to the ignorance and indifference on part of the government in power. This fear-psychosis has resulted in gradual decrease in the population of Sikhs in the valley, as our grown-up children have developed propensity towards moving out in search of jobs, higher education and security,” Committee coordinator Jagmohan Singh Raina told a news conference here.
Though they are not at fault, it is a matter of great concern for the entire community. Regrettably, successive Central and State governments have turned a blind eye to it and have apparently forgotten the Sikhs of the valley, he added.
Mr. Raina said the Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir face social and political problems mainly because they have had inadequate representation in the Assembly.
“Minorities’ representatives [Hindus and Buddhists] in the State Assembly support their communities and raise the issues facing them, but pay no attention to the Sikhs of the State or their problems, mainly because they do not have any idea about them,” he said.
Mr. Raina stated that due to militancy in Kashmir, a vast majority of Sikhs chose to migrate to Srinagar from the villages, leaving behind their sources of income/revenue such as orchards, agricultural land, and other means of earning a livelihood.
The exodus, he said, left the community economically weak and dependent, which till date is the biggest setback the Sikhs of Kashmir have suffered. The government has never shown a desire to come to their rescue, he added.
“Notwithstanding the fact that many Sikhs were killed during the two-decade old turmoil in the valley, they chose to stay alongside their Muslim brethren, thereby showing complete solidarity with their neighbours and friends from the majority community and devotion to the land of Kashmir,” Mr. Raina said. “All this was enough to prove they were also the sons of same soil in true sense of the term.”
The leaders rued that it was a matter of great concern that the agricultural land, orchards and other property belonging to the Sikh community has been occupied by security forces at comparatively cheaper rates. “There are many instances wherein no compensation or rent has been paid at all to the owners till date,” they said.
Non-availability of jobs
The leaders also alleged that due to the non-availability of jobs in the government and private sectors, and with few opportunities offered in higher education due to the prevailing governing system and policies, Sikhs have been left a disgruntled lot. This discriminatory attitude left them with no option but to migrate.
“Time and again, the State governments and their representatives have been apprised of these problems by leaders from the Sikh community but regrettably, our voice has fallen on deaf ears,” Mr. Raina said.
‘Divide and Rule’ policy
“Governments and politicians, instead of meeting the demands of the Sikh community at political, economic and social levels, have been seeking to divide it on the basis of their ethnicity, like the Muzaffarabadi Sikhs, Punchi Sikhs, Mirpuri Sikhs, Kashmiri Sikhs, etc,” Mr. Raina said.
“This divide and rule policy provides them the advantage to factionalise the community so that no solution can be arrived at. As a result of this, their demands have been pending since the Partition of the State in 1947-48.”