Kashmiri Muslims responded by offering concessional services to Sikhs, after they (Sikhs) facilitated return of students stuck in some regions of North India amid mob attacks and fear psychosis in wake of Pulwama attack.
Many in Kashmir are showering praises on the Sikh community after a few organisations came forward in times of distress to help Kashmiri students return home, after they were reportedly attacked by mob in Dehradun after Pulwama suicide attack.
Small business holders from Muslim community, which forms the majority in the Jammu and Kashmir have started posting on social media announcing special discounts on medicines and even car services. Some have offered to give free academic coaching classes, mostly in rural areas.
But the sops have not gone well with the demands of the community that has been agitating for the minority rights in the conflict region.
Central government had recently announced special job package for minorities living in Kashmir region, however, Sikhs in Kashmir said that the governor administration tweaked the orders and made employment package exclusively for Kashmiri Pandit members who choose to stay back in the region during 1990s.
Last month, the state High Court also dismissed the appeal made by Sikhs to challenge the SRO 425. By virtue of this rule only Kashmir Pandit families were included in special job package residing in the Valley who had not migrated in the wake of events in 1990.
Sikhs in Kashmir say that huge number of Sikhs stayed back in Kashmir during the testing times, and if circumstances in Kashmir were same for both minority communities why special treatment is being given to Pandits.
“Both the communities should be accommodated equally,” one of the minority rights activists said.
Sikhs have survived what other communities cannot even think of, says Jatinder an unemployed Sikh youth who holds a major in economics adding, “Sikhs have kept the idea of diversity and inclusiveness alive in the Kashmir region at the time when people were fleeing to avoid violence and lead peaceful lives outside state.”
Recently, around 30 Sarpanchs were made to resign after a Sikh youth was killed in South Kashmir’s Tral area. However, the event did not created much hue and cry in Kashmir.
It took more than 10 days for separatist organisations to issue a statement on the issue only after the Sikh body urged them to acknowledge the murder. Mainstream political parties have not issued any statement.
On October 27, every year, to mark the day when Indian Army landed in Kashmir, many observe black day in the region. However, atrocities committed by the Army and tribals from Pakistan have been ignored.
More than 5,000 Sikhs were allegedly uprooted from Kashmir regions now under Pakistan control. Many independent authors have written how Sikhs were harmed by Pakistan invasion in Kashmir in 1947. Survivors have claimed that Sikhs were killed and women were raped by the Tribals.
However, the event is not recognised in the Kashmir and is generally ignored.
The Sikhs have been appealing to the state government to extend minority rights commission to the state and introduce Punjabi language from school to university level, however despite pre-poll promises the issues of Sikhs were ignored and the majority community has not stood behind where it really matters.
The author is a freelance contributor.