SRINAGAR: The Sikh community residing in Tral has accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of launching a vitriolic campaign to harm the communal harmony in the area. They have accused a middle-rung leader of the BJP, Avtar Singh, who unsuccessfully contested an assembly election here, of leading the campaign with fictitious claims of threats to the Sikh community.
Avtar Singh’s brother Kulwant Singh, a bank employee and a resident of Monghama village, 44 kilometers from here, has asked Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal to take up the matter of security of Sikhs in Kashmir with the central government, reported Hindustan Times. Badal has asked Kashmiri Sikhs to send a delegation to Chandigarh.
Interestingly, Avtar and his brother Kulwant are no longer living in Monghama village. They left for greener pastures decades ago. Sikhs living in Monghama and several other villages in Tral told Kashmir Reader that they feel no threat and are living with the majority community comfortably as always.
“An agitation is going on and people’s routine life is affected. Our Muslims brothers are suffering in the same manner as we are suffering. There is complete communal harmony and brotherhood,” Dr Joginder Singh Shaan, president of the District Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Pulwama, told Kashmir Reader.
“There has not been a single attack on any Sikh. Some vested interests have launched a propaganda campaign to vitiate the atmosphere,” he said.
Sikhs reside in 39 villages in Tral area of south Kashmir. Following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, thousands of people took to the streets in Tral area, including members of Sikh community. The Sikhs also took part in voluntary work to offer food and beverages to people who thronged the town on the funeral of the insurgency icon.
“The Sikh community is highly indebted to Burhan Wani, who always respected and protected Sikhs. In his videos he used to mention the Sikh community and their commitment to the Kashmir cause,” an elderly Sikh resident of Arigam village said.
Shaan said that he along with a group of Sikh elders met Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who assured them of fullest support.
“In fact, Hurriyat leader Basheer Ahmad Andrabi was dispatched to all Sikh populated villages to instill confidence among the community,” Shaan said.
He said that Andrabi addressed a large gathering at Gurdwara Singh Sabha at Diver. He told the gathering that Sikhs can leave Kashmir only over the bodies of their Muslim brethren. “We will always stand by the honour and safety of our Sikh brothers,” Shaan quoted Andrabi as saying.
Efforts to contact BJP’s defeated candidate, Avtar Singh, who is an aide of MoS PMO Dr Jitendar Singh, went in vain.