Sikh refugees demand Indian citizenship

Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 14:06 [IST]
 

Amritsar, Feb 24 (ANI): Following the brutal beheading of two Sikhs by Taliban in Pakistan, refugee Sikhs, hailing from Peshawar in Pakistan living in Amritsar have demanded that they should be given citizenship so that they can live in India safely with their families.

The refugee Sikhs expressed that their families and relatives in Peshawar and other tribal areas are under severe threat from Taliban and repatriation will cost them their lives as well.

About 60 Sikh families from Pakistan have taken refuge in Amritsar for the last couple of years.

Fearing intimidation from Taliban, the minority community has asked for adequate security from the Indian Government.

"Our mother, father, brothers and sisters are still living in Peshawar. It has been almost 15-16 years that we have been living here in India. We are happy here but our relatives back home are facing a tough time," said Sardar Singh, a refugee.

"It has been 15 years since we came to Punjab, but we haven't got citizenship as yet. Thus we can't even bring our relatives from Pakistan here," he added.

A few Sikh families hailing from Pakistan, particularly from the rebel-controlled areas of Peshawar, have settled in India's northern Punjab state and established their business here.

"People there tell our folks to leave and go to Punjab and people in Punjab say that you are foreigners. I ask which is my country. Am I a citizen of Pakistan, India or Afghanistan?" Sardar Singh questioned.

The Sikh refugees said that they approached the government several times and even sent request letters but many of them are still to get the Indian citizenship.

"We demand that the Indian government should give us citizenship so that we can bring our relatives here from Peshawar. We want them to live a safe and secure life, with their brothers here," said Satbir Singh, another refugee.

Thousands of Sikhs living in Pakistan's tribal belt adjoining Afghanistan have been trading in the region for generations.

In May 2009, the Sikhs joined an exodus of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Taliban stronghold of Swat Valley, when the army launched an offensive in as a peace pact with the militants broke down. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)


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