Date: 21 Aug 2010


Sikhs under threat in Valley, Govt says we’ll protect them ///////////// PNS | New Delhi////////// The BJP and Akali Dal on Friday expressed concern in Parliament over reported pressure on Sikhs in Kashmir to convert to Islam or leave the State and demanded assurance from the Government for ensuring the safety and security of the minority community there. The Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments with the agitated members demanding a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue. ///////////// Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram assured the members in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively that the Central and State Governments will take necessary steps to protect the Sikhs. The Home Minister also said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah assured him that rights of the Sikhs will be fully protected. ////////////// The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha during the Zero Hour by Naresh Gujral (Shiromani Akali Dal) and the BJP joined him in expressing concern. SS Ahluwalia (BJP) said the Prime Minister had said from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 that Kashmir was part and parcel of India. In the light of this statement, Ahluwalia and his colleagues, including Chandan Mitra, Balbir Punj and others, demanded a statement from the Government. ///////////// Even as Deputy Chairman K Rehman Khan said one of the BJP members, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, was scheduled to raise the matter, the agitated members continued to raise a din. /////////// External Affairs Minister SM Krishna intervened and said Jammu and Kashmir was integral part of India and there was no ambiguity on it and no talks could be held on the issue. /////////// He said protection of the minorities was a concern of the Government wherever they are and they will be protected. //////////// However, the BJP members were not satisfied and trooped into the well of the House, demanding a statement from the Prime Minister. /////////// Khan then adjourned the House for 20 minutes at 12.10 pm. The proceedings were adjourned again for 15 minutes as soon as the House met at 12.30 pm. //////////// Responding to their concerns when the Elders reassembled, Chidambaram said he had spoken to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, who assured him that every effort would be made to provide adequate protection to Sikhs in the Valley. ///////////// “We are aware of the so-called threat. There is nothing to fear or nothing to worry,” he said, adding a delegation of Sikhs will be meeting him on the issue in the next few days. /////////// Not satisfied with the assurance, Balbir Punj (BJP) said despite assurances more than five lakh Hindus were forced to leave the Kashmir Valley and were now living as refugees in their own country. Chandan Mitra demanded an assurance from the Home Minister that no Sikh would be forced to leave the State. //////////// Chidambaram said, “Nobody will be allowed to harm the Sikh community.” The Chief Minister had assured him that “rights of Sikhs will be fully protected and no harm would be allowed to come to them,” he said.//////////// Ahluwalia said the Government’s assurance was regarding protection to Sikh community whereas the need of the hour was to create a congenial atmosphere. He also said Sikhs were the only Indian civilian face in the strife-torn State and the militants were now threatening them. ///////////// Rudy said there were one lakh Sikhs in Kashmir and they were given three alternatives by the militants. The alternatives were to convert to Islam or join the stone-pelters’ association or else leave the State, the BJP leader said. He also said the country was proud to have a Sikh as the Prime Minister and this issue was a matter of grave concern. The country should a stern message that enough was enough, he added. //////////// Akali Dal member Rattan Singh Ajnala raised the issue in the Lok Sabha before the question hour asserting that his community members may choose to die than convert to Islam. //////////// After Ajnala’s emotional statement, Mirza Mehboob Beg (NC) termed the threat by militants as against the ethos of Kashmir. “This is against Kashmiriyat. This cannot be allowed to happen in Kashmir. Every Kashmiri Muslim will stand by the Sikhs,” Beg said. ////////////// Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured the House that the Government will take all necessary steps to ensure that no harm would come to Sikhs. “Not only Muslims of Kashmir but the whole of India would rise as one to stand by the Sikh community,” he said. ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 000000000