Beheading of Sikh in Pakistan condemned in India (Lead)

February 22nd, 2010 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Chandigarh, Feb 22 (IANS) The beheading of a Sikh man in Pakistan was Monday widely condemned in India with the government being asked to put diplomatic pressure on Islamabad over the safety of the minority community in that country.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) — a Sikh organisation that manages gurdwaras, the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have condemned the killing of Jaspal Singh by suspected Taliban militants in Pakistan.

The victim was kidnapped along with two other Sikhs by Taliban militants from Tirah valley in Khyber Agency near the provincial capital Peshawar.

A letter was found with the body warning the relatives of the deceased and other Sikh locals against disclosing the case to the media. His two other companions, Gorwandar Singh and Surjeet Singh, are still being held captive by the militants, according to media reports.

“This is a condemnable act. The central government should take up the matter with the Pakistan government to ensure the safety of Sikhs in that area,” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said.

The government in Punjab, the only Sikh majority state in India, has sought the central government’s intervention to ensure the safety of Sikhs in the restive tribal region in Pakistan.

“The government should not sleep in this matter. Life of Sikhs should be protected,” Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Chandigarh.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that India needs to talk to Pakistan over the incident.

“It is a serious issue and there is a need to talk to Pakistan. It also sends a message to world powers who are trying to differentiate between good and bad Taliban,” Tewari told reporters in Delhi.

He said the government had been regularly taking up the issue of providing security to minorities, especially Sikhs, in Pakistan.

The BJP has asked the government to mount “diplomatic pressure” on Pakistan to ensure release of the abducted Sikh residents in that country.

Minorities are facing threats in Pakistan and terrorism presents the real picture of that country, said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

A large number of Pakistani Sikhs have fled from Orakzai and Tirah valley where the non-Muslims have been charged “jazia” or tax by militants on the pretext of providing security to them in the area.

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