American Sikhs approach US to ensure Pak-Sikhs' safety

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New Delhi, March 2 (ANI): Concerned over the atrocities being perpetrated by Taliban upon Sikhs living in Peshawar and the tribal areas of the North West Front Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, members of the American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee met the US officials in Washington DC on Monday.

AGPC delegation urged the US officials that by using their influence, the U.S. should pressurise the respective authorities (in Pakistan) to provide basic amenities to the Sikhs along with ensuring security of their lives.

Notably, just a few days back, one of the three Sikhs abducted from Peshawar, Jaspal Singh, was beheaded by the Taliban and the incident drew worldwide condemnation.

The delegation members conveyed to the US department that the release of the two abducted Sikhs by the Talibans didn't resolve the serious issue in which the lives of so many Sikh families are at stake.

The members said that the Sikhs living in the areas have been paying Jaziya to the Talibans for a very long time and the respective government of the area didn't do anything concrete to ensure elief from such inhuman acts of the Taliban.

Talking to ANI over phone from Washington DC, Dr. Pritpal Singh, convener American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee said that US department has assured the Sikh delegation to take the matter with the respective government to provide adequate security and safety to the life and property of the minority like Sikhs living in the NWFP.

Besides Dr. Singh, the other members included Yadvinder Singh, President AGPC , the US officials including, Henna Leena, State Dept. (Pakistan Desk), Joannella Morales (office of International religious freedom-state dept), Bakhshish Singh of AGPC, Peter J. Kovach (director office of international religious freedom).

Reportedly, Talibans are forcing the non-Muslims living in the NWFP either they should become Muslim or pay Jaziya (religious tax).

Following Talibans' atrocities, over 500 Sikh families shifted to the Peshawar from three tribal regions---Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber in recent years.

Last year, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan demolished more than a dozen houses of the Sikh community in the Orakzai Agency for not paying 'Jaziya'.

Sikhs living in the NWFP claim that Talibans have now asked them to pay more than 200,000 dollars as Jaziya for being permitted to stay on living in the area.

Most of the Sikhs families belong to the "Khatri" caste and a middle-class living in the area either doing business as a cloth merchant or in herbal medicines.

Since these Sikhs have failed to arrange such an impossible demand to meet, so they (Talibans) have decided to push them to Peshawar. Reportedly Talibans have occupied their shops and ouses. By Ravinder Singh Robin(ANI)

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