Terror-stricken Sikh community weary of its safety in Pakistan


KHYBER: While relatives and well wishers of slain Diyal Singh mourned his targeted killing, many of them said they now felt more insecure than before.

Herjeet Singh, a young imitation jewellery dealer in Peshawar’s Karkhano market told Dawn that his entire community was ‘heart broken’ and terrorised by the killing of Diyal Singh whom he described as a ‘harmless soul’.

He said that minority community and especially Sikhs were feeling very insecure in Peshawar and surrounding localities as a minority person was killed after every seven or eight months with the security agencies failing to provide them much needed protection.

Harjeet Singh’s family had migrated to Peshawar from Bara some 17 years back when Bara was under effective control of the proscribed Lashkar-i-Islam, led by Mangal Bagh.

He said that Diyal Singh had four children, including three sons and a daughter and he was the only breadwinner for his family.

“Owing to his poor financial status, our community would hire him as watchman during festive occasions so that he could earn some extra money apart from his small herbal shop,” he said.

Malak Balendar Singh, a spokesman for Sikh community in Bara told Dawn that the grandfather of the deceased migrated from Tirah some three decades back and settled down in Kalanga, Akkakhel area of Bara.

He said that Diyal Singh was running his herbal shop in Bhatta Thal locality, adjacent to Bara Bazaar but had to shift to Muhallah Jogan Shah in Peshawar in May last year when two of his close relatives Ranjeet Singh and Kulgeet Singh were killed by unidentified gunmen.

He said the deceased was very concerned about the safety of his family and had thus shifted to Peshawar with the hope that he would be safe while living close to other Sikh families in Mohallah Jogan Shah.

Jaspal Singh, another Sikh trader in Karkhano market, told Dawn that while majority of the Sikh families had long shifted to either Peshawar or other cities of the country, 29 Sikh shopkeepers were still running their small businesses in Bara while another 19 had their shops in Bhatta Thal market.

He said none of these Sikh shopkeepers had residences in Bara or any other locality of Khyber as they come back to Peshawar in the evening.

“Our relationship with the local community is very cordial and friendly but still we feel insecure as a number of the minority community members had fallen victims to targeted killing in recent past,” he explained.

He said hundreds of Sikh families previously residing in Tirah valley for over a century had now deserted their homes and had migrated to other comparatively safer places.

He, however, added that Peshawar too had of late become ‘very threatening’ place for his community and they were now seriously thinking of a ‘mass migration’ to Punjab.__dawn.com