Kashmir Sikhs announce boycott of Lok Sabha by-polls

Kashmir Sikhs announce boycott of Lok Sabha by-polls
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Srinagar: While highlighting the unfulfilled demands of Sikh community living in Jammu and Kashmir, All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) Thursday alleged that ruling People’s Democratic Party (PD) has done nothing to grant minority status to Sikh community.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, President APSCC, Jagmohan Singh Raina said that in its election manifesto for 2014 assembly elections, PDP had promised that they would give minority status to Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir but the party forgot this promise and despite being in power for the past couple of years PDP along with its coalition partner Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has taken no step in this regard. “The extension of National Commission For Minority Act to the state as promised by PDP has not been done so far much to the disappointment of Sikh community,” he said.
“As the elections for Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar-Budgam and Anantnag-Pulwama are going to be held next month the parties both in the power and outside are trying to befool Sikhs by promising moon and stars. All the mainstream parties have so far failed to come up to the expectations of the Sikh community in the state,” he said.
He said that in the past National Conference and Congress ditched the Sikh community by not accepting the demands of the community. “As on date there is no difference between mainstream parties like PDP, BJP, NC and Congress when it comes to the Sikh community and the problems faced by the community members.The state government opposed the granting of minority status to Sikhs in the Supreme Court very recently. This action suggests that the people at helm pursue different agenda while being in power or out of power. PDP has virtually backtracked from its pre-poll promise of 2014 and in fact the party is taking steps quite contrary to the poll manifesto,” Raina said.
“Since many of the PDP members won elections on basis of Sikh votes it is important that these legislators resign if they have some moral ground. Many of these legislators should thank the Sikh voters since they became ministers in the present government. Some of the seats from which PDP won were traditionally bastions of NC and it was due to the Sikh voters that PDP members emerged victorious.”
Raina said that Minister for Social Welfare, Sajad Lone misled one of the houses of legislature while replying to a question about the minorities in the state. Although, it was duty of the senior ministers including chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to clear the air they never took any step to inculcate confidence among the members of Sikh community in the state.
“Denial of due rights to minorities has already led to devastation in Haryana and same cannot be ruled out in Jammu & Kashmir. With appreciable number of Sikhs living in Jammu region one cannot rule out an agitation by members of Sikh community in that region of the state. The state government would be responsible for the consequences thereof.”
“Unlike the past the APSCC does not want the members of Sikh community to vote for a particular party or candidate during the by-polls of Lok Sabha. Sikhs are free to vote for anybody and in case they deem it fit not to vote the APSCC would not force them to change their decision.”
He said that the situation in the Kashmir valley is very tricky and the APSCC would expect the central government to initiate a dialogue process with the concerned stakeholders so that the situation becomes normal. “Taking brute action against the protesters would not lead to any result and in fact it would alienate the people especially youth from the mainstream,” he said.
Besides Jagmohan Singh Raina, Chairman APSCC other members present in the conference were Sant Singh, Karan Singh (Retd. Tehsildar), Dr. Joginder Singh Shaan, Indumeet Singh, Devinder Singh, Gurdayal Singh, Tarlok Singh (Babu) and Popinder Singh and others. (CNS)

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