Sikhs in Pakistan's KP province allege being forced to convert


Peshawar, Dec. 19: The Sikh community in Pakistan's Hangu district in northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have alleged that they were being forced to convert to Islam by a government official, according to a media report.

The Sikh community members have lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner Hangu Shahid Mehmood, the Express Tribune reported.

According to the Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority, there are around 6,000 Sikhs in the country, living in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Sindh, Balochistan, Nankana Sahib, Lahore and other districts of Punjab.

In his complaint, Farid Chand Singh said that the community members had been living in the area since 1901 and were never offended by anyone, specially over religious beliefs.

"They rather lived all their lives peacefully with Muslims, despite having been a hotbed for sectarian conflicts, residents of Hangu district never harmed us," he was quoted as saying in the report.

They were never approached by someone to convert to Islam, they have friendly relations with Muslims who have always stood up for the community when in need, Singh added.

"Had it been from someone ordinary, it would have never been felt so offending but when you hear such things from a government official, it becomes something really serious," Singh told The Express Tribune.

"We, the residents of Doaba area, are being tortured religiously," he alleged in his complaint.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is in the northwestern region of the country along Pakistan's international border with Afghanistan. It was previously known as the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Deputy Commissioner Hangu Shahid Mehmood said that the Sikh community members got offended during a conversation with the assistant commissioner, which the latter never really meant.

There was no such issue of converting someone forcefully to Islam, rather administration ensured religious freedom, he clarified said.

Concerned by the report, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today urged External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj to take up with Pakistani authorities the issue of alleged forced conversion of Sikhs to Islam.

"Request @SushmaSwaraj ji to take up this issue with Pakistan. We cannot allow the Sikh community to be victimised in such a manner. Its our duty to help protect the Sikh identity and the @MEAIndia should pursue the matter at the highest levels," he tweeted.

In response, Swaraj said that the matter would be taken at the highest level in Pakistan government.

"We will take this up at the highest level with Government of Pakistan. @IndiainPakistan Sikh community in Hangu being forced to convert," she tweeted. NEWS KARNATAKA.COM Inputs from PTI



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