As persecution of Sikhs rise, New Delhi conveys strong message to Islamabad
New Delhi, Sep 22: New Delhi has taken up the issue of forcible conversions with Pakistan and asked it to stop the persecution of religious minority community. The issue was taken up after it was reported that 55 Sikh women were kidnaped and forcibly converted to Islam.
India summoned a senior diplomat of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi to the South Block. Top officials of the Ministry of External Affairs conveyed concerns of the government over a series of incidents of abduction and forced conversion.
It may be recalled that in the 2017 census, Pakistan had excluded Sikhs. However the data available shows that there were around 40,000 Sikhs in Pakistan in 2002. The number today stands at around 8,000.
The decline in numbers is because some have fled to India. The other reason is a large majority have been forcibly converted to Islam. The Sikhs in Pakistan have been complaining about being persecuted. Their lands have been taken away and they have been discriminated and even denied education in Pakistan.
It may be recalled that in 2009, the Taliban had imposed Jizya on the non-Muslims in Pakistan. Jizya is a per capita yearly taxation in the form of financial charge on non-Muslims in a state that is governed by Islam.
In 2010, the homes of 11 Sikh families were demolished as they refused to pay Jizya. In 2018, Charanjeet Singh was shot dead in Peshawar and this became the 10th killing of a Sikh since 2014.
New Delhi on Monday conveyed to Islamabad the anguish of the Sikh community over such incidents of persecution. India took up with Pakistan the incident in which Bulbul Kaur, the daughter of Pritam Singh, a granthi was abducted and forcibly converted.