February 2001 News

Sikhs change migration plan after APHC security assurance

9 February 2001
The Pioneer
Rashid Ahmad and Khursheed Wani

Srinagar: The Sikh community of Kashmir is likely to decide against migration after getting assurances of security from Government and the APHC. Recent killings in Mahjoor Nagar carried out by unknown gunmen spread a sense of insecurity among the Sikhs and there were fears their of mass exodus from the Valley. However, the APHC leadership has played a major role in dispelling the fears among the terror-stricken community by visiting the families of the victims and assuring all possible support. Former chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani and Hurriyat executive member and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik visited Mahajoor Nagar Gurdhawar on Wednesday, where a large number of Sikhs had gathered. The Hurriyat leaders assured them that the entire majority community had full sympathy with the minority Sikh community. They also described the Sikhs as an integral part of the Kashmiri society. The Sikhs said that they were impressed by the Hurriyat leaders" assurance. After the visit of Hurriyat leaders, major chunk of the community seems to be convinced that the latest killing was not an organised or a cleansing act. "Their (Hurriyat leaders") statement were very encouraging", said Joginder Singh Shan, general secretary of Shrimoni Akali Dal and leader of World Sikh Council. "It will definitely bring a rethinking among the community", he added. The Sikh leader, who is in early 60s, had lost his mother soon after he was born. "It was a Muslim woman who brought me up", he said adding "how can I abandon my mother now and migrate". He said that this could be true to so many other Sikhs and even to Muslims. The State Government has also seemingly started on a major confidence building mission. Minister of State for Home Affairs Mushtaq Ahmad Lone along with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir visited almost every Sikh pocket of the Valley and held meetings with the local leaders of Sikhs and Muslims. Sikhs, whose overall population in the valley is estimated between 40,000 to 45,000, live in 135 villages across the Valley. According to reports, the Sikh-Muslim meetings have helped in a big way to strengthen the traditional ties between the two communities. "We have centuries old relationship with our Muslim brother", says Giani Makhan Singh, an elderly Sikh scholar from Tral, where Sikhs have a substantial population. He said that it would not be in the interest of either of the communities to be separated by the circumstances of whatsoever magnitude. Another factor, which is reported to be working on the Sikh mind is the problems likely to be faced in case of migration. Governor G C Saxena, who visited the Sikhs on Monday, warned them of impending miseries in case they decided to migrate. He told them that the Government would not stop anyone who wanted to migrate. "But before that you should just think over the miseries you are likely to face", he told them. He reminded them of the plight of the people, who have already migrated from the Valley. The Sikh leadership in Punjab and Delhi has also reported to have advised the members of the community against migration. Meanwhile, a four-member group of Sikh leaders from Punjab, led by SGPC chief, Jagdev Singh Talwandi arrived here on Thursday. The team, which has Punjab assembly speaker C S Atwal, Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh and MP Balwinder Singh Binder as other members, are visiting Mahjoor Nagar, the site of massacre, on Friday.


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