Threats in Kashmir Leave Sikh Community in Fear
By Jagmit Singh
After receiving letters that were being circulated throughout the Rawalpora village of Kupwara, Sikhs feel threatened and fear attacks from local Muslims in the area. The letters were demanding that Sikhs in the district the valley within five days or else their lives would be at risk.
The letters commenced circulation after a Sikh girl was recruited as a teacher under Rehbar-e-Taleem scheme in the village which had upset some people of the Muslim community leading to the tension in the surrounding area.
The majority community in the area was upset with the hiring of a Sikh girl even though she was hired with merit. After this incident, five letters were delivered to five Sikh homes asking the families to leave the valley within five days. Jagmohan Singh Raina, president of All Parties Sikh Coordination, said that the distribution of such letters caused unrest among the Sikh community since Jammu and Kashmir is a very sensitive state.
Spread out through eight districts of Kashmir valley, there are 80,000 Sikhs living in 121 villages. Traditionally Sikhs and Muslims have lived in harmony in the past in the Kashmir Valley aside from the massacre of 34 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora village of Anantnag district on March 20, 2000.
In the last few years though there have been many similar letters mailed anonymously to Sikh households, asking them to join pro-Islamic protests in the valley or leave Kashmir altogether.
Since the late 1980s, Kashmiri Pandits of the Hindu community were literally threatened to leave Kashmir and were targeted by mobs and physically assaulted. This public outrage against the Kashmiri Pandits resulted in a huge exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.The population of Kashmiri pandits which was 55% in 1941 reduced to 0.1% in 2001. Nearly 400,000 Hindu Kasmiri Pandits were hence rendered homeless.