11 Oct 2020
In a peaceful demonstration, Kashmiri Sikh community members belonging to All Party Sikh Co-ordination Commitee (APSCC) highlighted that their community has been given a step-motherly treatment by the UT’s administration and Central Government at large.
After Pandits, Sikhs are the second minority community in the state. According to official data, the Sikh population in Jammu and Kashmir is 2.03% – with 0.88% in the Kashmir division. Expressing indignation, Sikh community leaders had said many times earlier that their grievances have remained unaddressed for long. Among their major demands – for which the community says they have been fighting for decades – are the extension of the Minority Community Act to the state and the introduction of Punjabi language in schools and colleges.
Also they have voiced many times about their worsening economic conditions.
“The economic condition of our community is bad. Out of the 3,000 jobs announced for migrants Pandits under the prime minister’s package in 2009, Sikhs claim that 500 posts were kept reserved for minorities that had not migrated from the Valley. Yes the Central government announced an employment package for us as well, but the state government has given all the jobs to other minority communities,” they had claimed in a similar protest even last year.
“Does government announce any special ration supply for us like they do during other festivals? Do they know whether the Sikhs have essential commodities like rice, sugar etc at home? Do they care for us?”.. they had asked even last year.
In Tral area, around 26 villages house Sikh families, some are even Sikh dominated. “The condition of most of the roads leading to Sikh-dominated villages is terrible. When we go to government offices with our demands, we often receive a cold response,”they had claimed.
“Our private sector is weak. The government hasn’t given us any employment quota. Where will our children go? Those who are wealthy send their kids outside Kashmir. It is poor people like us who face hardships every day.”
“We have MBA, M.Sc, M.A., and even PhD degree holders seeking jobs for years. They rarely earn their livelihood. We don’t have any reservation category. By not addressing our problems, the government is forcing us to migrate from the Valley.”
Besides, members of the Sikh community had said, the government has not done any enquiry into the Chattisinghpora massacre and they have now lost their hope. On March 20, 2000, in the Sikh-dominated Chattisinghpora village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, 35 Sikh villagers were killed by masked gunmen. Nineteen years have passed but the killings remain shrouded in mystery.