Sikhs and Muslims in Kashmir, India

 

Kashmir1 (19K)

                                Srinagar, India—In the Kashmir Valley:

Image

Sikh youths demand Azadi with shoulder to shoulder to Kashmiri Muslims.

I went to Kashmir valley in 1979 first time. When i was sitting at a restaurant near Dal lake in the evening time, few Muslim youths approached me and welcomed me in Kashmir. I too welcomed them.

They asked me regarding problems in Punjab and many other relevant question on Sikhism. Then one of them asked me i am interested in weapons. I asked for a Revolver. They replied yes being a Sikh i could get just for Rs. 5000/- but if i wish, i could buy AK-47 just for Rs. 10,000/- only.

On the contrary they revealed that its just because of i am Sikh and they could provide me this price. I asked if a Hindu needs to buy then? The prompt reply was there–a bullet. The all kind of firearms were free for Muslims. I, as a Sikh could get free with a condition that if i kill anyone, anywhere, the credit of action would have gone to them. I had no enemy so didn’t accept the offer. After i finish the action, i had to return it back to them. If somehow left in operation, there was nothing to worry as the operation was to be counted in their account.

And after 10 years Pandits were forced to leave the valley on 19th January but Sikhs never vacated. Some stupids try to disturb peace and harmony in both martial communities but they always failed.

I am sure they will fail again as there this move shall be rejected by leaders of both communities.

Then again i went to Srinagar in 1989 and stayed there upto 1992, i experienced myself how nicely i was treated by locals, they regarded me everywhere, in downtown area and in isolated areas too. I used to walk late in the nights and in every street in Srinagar but never faced any threat by any Muslim where a single vehicle of army could never pass or a Hindu person could never walk.
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The J&K State has been visited by the Great  Sikh Gurus, namely  Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Har Rai Sahib. Many Sikh shrines that have been constructed to commemorate the visits of these Sikh Gurus. There are various Gurdwaras that have been built in the memory of other Sikhs saints who carried out the task of spreading the eternal spiritual message of the Sikhism  in this State.  It is worthwhile  to mention that i – the author have travelled to each  such sacred  places visited by the Sikh Gurus in Kashmir valley. 

But now……

 

Sikhs are given threat to vacate valley.

At a time when the struggle for Azaadi by the Kashmiris had entered a new phase with mass support erupting out in the streets, the threatening letters to valley Sikhs asking them either to ‘embrace Islam or leave Kashmir had added a new dimension raising alarm bells in the Sikh circles.

Sikhs have been recently told to pack up and leave if they do not embrace Islam and help to stand up for the local civilians. The minority Sikh community of 60 000 in the area have been sent letters warning them to leave or join the local protests as Muslims.

The All Party Sikhs Coordinate Committee (ASCC), has addressed its concern regarding the anonymous letters being sent to various Sikh members in a number of areas in the Kashmir Valley. At a meeting held by Jagmohan Singh Raina, the coordinator of ASCC, stated that the Sikh community has decided to stay put and fight against the threatening letters instead of fleeing. They will fight to keep their homes.
Raina quoted a letter saying, “When you are enjoying the joys here, why can’t you share the grief and sorrow of Kashmiris as well? We know you are afraid of bullets… Hold protests inside gurdwaras or leave Kashmir.” He also added that some of these letters have asked Sikhs to embrace Islam or leave the city that does not belong to them.

Raina addressed the issue to both factions of the Hurriyat, JKLF, and PoK-based United Jihad Council to take the seriousness of the notes into account and to take measures to avoid a continuation of such notes in the future.

I want more information on this issue from Kashimiri Sikhs as i remember three years ago, we faced the same problem but Geelani assured Sikhs, then why again? We have our own issues with Govt. of India? How can we start another issue until our own issues aren’t settled. I sent a letter to Geelani at that time. he never responded but when Simranjit singh maan sent a letter to him, he immediately responded with his assurance.

Copy of the said letter to Geelani…………

Good Morning Geelani sahib,

I am a Sikh and I have lived in J & K for seven years out of which three years i spent in Srinagar during peak of militancy. since Jan 89 to March 92 but as i was outsider from Dehra Dun and had not enough support, i was compelled to leave the valley. I remind you not in fear of Army or the militants but of circumstances and poverty. I was a taxi operator so i used to go in remote areas also where no one dared to go, may be day or night. The reason was also my selfishness as i wanted to see Kashmir more closely. I was encountered many times with militants but i was never harmed or afraid but i got maximum harassment on hands of security forces. I have witnessed the brutalities of CRPF personals when they saw any League flag on top of a house or any slogan  if found written on outside wall of the house, the family of that house was compelled to lick it and clean it on gun point. I have also witnessed the atrocities faced by a common person because nobody knew that someone was closely watching them. I have witnessed the youths who had their clocks set with Pakistan.

I witnessed the unfortunate migration of Pandits from valley and I was aware of availability of firearms in Kashmir. These were easily and free of cost available to Muslims but Sikhs could get on a minimum payment but Hindus/pandits could get a bullet, not firearms. The affection of Kashmiris to me is beyond words. I have always stood in favor of Kashmiris and because I was aware of the culture of Kashmir, its people, its customs, I could write the true articles whenever required.

Once I had a meeting with Kashmiri youths which went on nearly 4 hrs. they were militants and our focus of discussion was to know the aim of this Zihad or fight. I found only one motto of Kashmiri militants that they wanted the AHTRAM OF ISLAM. Neither they could express it in English/ Hindi nor I could understand it completely but I guessed its meanings.

My experience of my stay in valley also approves to these thoughts of Muslim youths. The  ahtram of Islam is also in Pakistan and all countries in UAE but are the Sikhs and others not staying there? Do they not contribute their services to the prosperity of those nations? How could you or these miscreants can imagine a nation without the presence of  the people of other religions? The globe has become small and people all over it are getting closer than before. Wherever we are living should contribute to build the nation and the rulers should guaranty the safeguard and opportunities to earn for their livelihood, liberty to follow their religion and education to all its citizens without any discrepancy or discrimination. (I expect from you also).

Now I come to the point, Recent on goings in Kashmir have compelled me this letter to you. I read many reports where the Sikhs of valley are asked to embrace Islam or leave valley. You know both the things are not possible. If you look at the past history of centuries, you can conclude it yourself. The death is very small things for we Sikhs and we can never be threatened but this will certainly sow the seeds of enemy in Muslims and Sikhs not only in Kashmir but in Punjab and elsewhere also.

If the Sikhs are killed somewhere in valley by Muslims, Sikhs will also retaliate. We are not Pandits and not cowards who could be scared. But I ask a straight question, who will be benefited by these incidents? Is not the govt. of India which has one motto to eliminate Sikhs and isolate Muslims? Why not you use your influence and order your youths to restrain that we Sikhs are with them but as we have already suffered a lot and have no good leader at this moment, we are not in a position to support them. We are lead by Parkash Singh Badal, who is a trait of Sikhs, he is responsible to invite Indira to attack Golden temple.

I request you to visit my profile and see the comments. In most of the comments you will find in support to Kashmir and the Muslims then why do the Muslims of the valley  want their friends as their foe? We are your friends and support your fight of freedom but not at the cost of my people residing in Kashmir.

I am dedicated to my religion and to my people. If you wish, I can come and meet you with eminent Sikh leaders of valley but we should make sure their safety first, safety of all Sikhs be guaranteed before we proceed ahead.

I shall be waiting a quick reply anticipating the same.

Regards and Guru fateh !

Ajmer Singh Randhawa.

The real Kashimr was divided in two parts in 1947 like Punjab province. Some part of it was ceded to China by Pakistan where the Aksai Chin was forcefully occupied by China in 1962. The Indian part of Kashmir consists Jammu region, Kashmir region including Poonch area and Leh – Laddakh.

The 1947 war between India and Pakistan led to the division of the state, with Pakistan occupying western Baltistan and the Gilgit region (which Pakistan calls the Northern Areas) and the western parts of the Jammu and Kashmir regions between Muzaffarabad and Mirpur (which Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir). The line separating the Pakistan-occupied area and the remainder of the state, which is part of the Indian Union, became the cease-fire line on January 1, 1949. Later, at the July 2, 1972 Simla meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, the cease-fire line was renamed and converted to the Line of Control (LoC).
 
In addition to these developments involving Pakistan, the Chinese occupied the uninhabited eastern part of Ladakh during the 1950s to enable them convenient access to Tibet, which they had earlier forcibly occupied. In 1963, Pakistan ceded the area of the Shaksgam Valley (near the Siachen Glacier) to the Chinese. By late 1963, then, Jammu and Kashmir State, which had acceded to India’s control in 1947, was divided and under illegal occupation by both Pakistan and China, a situation that has not changed since.
The largest religious sect in JKI is Sunni Islam, whose followers constitute about 44% of the state’s population and about 32% of the Valley’s population. The largest ethnic group is Kashmiri-speaking: Kashmiri speakers in the Valley alone account for approximately 41% of the state’s total population. Those who belong to both of these groups—i.e., Sunni and Kashmiri-speaking—constitute about 25% of the state’s total population. Valley-based Kashmiri-speaking Sunni Muslims, as the largest of all of these groups, have dominated the politics and administration of the state, playing a critical role in shaping the events that have led up to the present turmoil.

The population of Muslims is divided along the lines of sect and ethnicity because these divisions illuminate the population source of separatist sentiment in JKI, which derives its strength from the various groups of non-pastoral Sunnis of the Kashmir Valley. Among these separatist groups, the most vocal is the middle class urban group concentrated in Srinagar and its immediate environs. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians, regardless of their ethnicity or caste division, stand unequivocally for union with India. (Besides the groups listed in these tables, there are a number of other smaller ethnic groups, such as Pothwari-speaking Muslims and non-Muslims, Chibalis, and Gaddis.) 

Ajmer Singh Randhawa

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