‘No harm will come to Sikhs in Kashmir,’ says Chidambaram

August 20th, 2010 - 7:20 pm ICT by ANI  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, Aug.20 (ANI): Sikhs need not have to live in fear in the Kashmir Valley, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told members of the Rajya Sabha on Friday in response to queries raised by Sikh members with regard to circulation of anonymous letters from extremists asking them to either embrace Islam or leave.

“We are aware of the so-called threat, but there is nothing to fear. The chief minister (Omar Abdullah) has assured that the Sikh community will be given protection,” Chidambaram said after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members protested on the issue.

The central government has been in talks with the state government for ensuring the safety of Sikhs in the Kashmir Valley, Chidambaram said, adding: “Let the house be assured that the state and centre are working together and Sikhs will be protected.”

Chidambaram also assured the Upper House that he would be meeting with a delegation of Sikhs and would discuss the issue with them.

BJP leader S.S. Ahluwalia, however, expressed skepticism over the assurances given by the minister, saying there had been several instances in the past of this nature without satisfactory results.

“We want a convenient atmosphere for the Sikhs in the valley… government cannot give protection to everyone,” Ahluwalia said.

Chidambaram said: “Nobody will be allowed to harm the Sikh community.”

Earlier, Akali Dal member Rattan Singh Ajnala had raised the issue of threats to Sikhs in the Lok Sabha before the Question Hour asserting that his community members may choose to die than convert to Islam.

He cited a newspaper report that said Sikhs in Kashmir have received anonymous letters from Islamic militants asking them to either embrace Islam and join the protests against civilian killings or pack up and leave the valley.

After Ajnala’s emotional statement in the house, 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 government would 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.

In the Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna assured members that the government would strive to protect the minorities. (ANI)

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