The Sikh community living in Sindh, Pakistan, finds itself deeply anguished in light of a recent surge in kidnappings and the unlawful seizure of revered shrines.
Approximately 10,000 Sikhs reside in the province of Sindh.
Growing concerns prevail within the Sikh community due to a series of kidnappings and the disturbance of their places of worship. This unsettling situation has triggered a sense of alarm among community members. The inability of both the police and the government to safeguard the rights of minorities has further exacerbated their distress.
In response to the escalating attacks on Sikhs and other minority groups, the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has recently addressed a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), urging enhanced protection for non-Muslim residents of the province. The commission has particularly highlighted the dire circumstances faced by the Sikh community. The letter specifically noted the abduction of Mukhi Jagdesh Kumar and a nine-year-old boy named Jaideep Kumar from the Bakshapur area of Sindh’s Kandhkot-Kashmore district.
Expressing grave concern, the human rights commission has implored the direct involvement of the IGP in the safe rescue of the abducted Sikh individuals and in ensuring the security of their places of worship against anti-social elements.
The commission has expressed its apprehensions regarding the safety of Sikhs and Hindus in the aftermath of an attack on the Baba Sanwal Shah Temple in Ghouspur. On July 16, a group of robbers launched mortar shells at the Gulshan Dera Baba Sanwal Shah Temple, a place of worship for the Baghariji minority community, located near Ghouspur in Kashmore district. Furthermore, nearly two weeks prior, on June 29, unidentified individuals disrupted a religious gathering at Sukkur Gurdwara, intimidating devotees and coercing them to halt their prayers.
In an effort to preclude the recurrence of such distressing incidents, which have induced a profound sense of fear within the community, the commission’s recommendations entail a direct state intervention in cases of violence targeting minorities, their places of worship, and incidents of abduction. The commission acknowledges that due to the prevailing overall security situation compounded by socio-cultural tensions, the affected parties lack the means to contend their cases effectively.
With a view to ensuring the safety of minorities’ places of worship, the commission urges the police to establish a specialized task force, aligning with the 2014 decree of the Pakistan Supreme Court. In the interim, until such a force is established, the commission advocates the formation of a special unit led by a senior officer. Additionally, the police should initiate the establishment of peace committees, encouraged to facilitate regular inter-communal dialogues at least once a month within the province.
In recent times, the Sikh community in Pakistan has encountered hostility from various Muslim groups, primarily in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The targeted killing of at least four Sikh men in recent incidents has instilled widespread apprehension among Sikhs throughout Pakistan regarding their future security and well-being.