Pak Govt. in talks with Taliban for return of Sikhs evicted from Orakzai

May 19th, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Kohat, May 19 (ANI): The Pakistan Government has started discreet negotiations through religious clerics with the deputy chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan for the rehabilitation of Sikh families, evicted from Orakzai Agency.

A high placed source said on Monday, that the tribal administration on the directives of the federal government had assigned the task of holding peace talks with the deputy chief of TTP, Hakeemullah Mehsud.

They would make efforts to pave the way for rehabilitation of Sikh families in the area where they had been living for centuries. The source declined to disclose the names of clerics involved in the talks, and said that meetings were going on peacefully.

He said that the displaced Sikh families were willing to come back. After getting orders for payment of Jazia, the Sikhs had already raised Rs12 million and just requested for one more day to collect the amount.

About 35 Sikh families were forced to leave their permanent abodes in Feroze Khel area of Orakzai Agency after Taliban burnt their houses and looted their shops.

Taliban had imposed Jazia (religious tax) on Sikh community for being non-Muslims living in an Islamic state for the protection of their lives and property.

The community failed to raise Rs15 million by April 29 after which their houses were attacked. But they had left the area before the attack, The Dawn reported.

Thirteen Sikh families were still living in Merozai area of lower Orakzai Agency on the land possessed by Shia community where the TTP had no control.

To a question about the collateral damage caused by the shelling and bombardment on militant hideouts in the area, he said that so far dozens of men, women and children had been killed in such attacks. (ANI)

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