Watch: Kashmiri Pandits Getting Reservation In Assembly, Sikh Leader Says They Are Being Discriminated

SRINAGAR: The All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) on Thursday criticized the Delimitation Commission for not providing any political representation to the community by way of reservation of assembly seats.

Jagmohan Singh Raina, President All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee addressing a press conference at Srinagar on Thursday July 21,2022. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

While addressing a press conference in Srinagar chairman APSCC Jagmohan Singh Raina said that the members of the Delimitation Commission met political parties, religious-groups, social groups and individuals before submitting the report to the Home Ministry.

“There was no role of the Union Territory administration in proposing or recommending anything to the Commission. However, it was surprising and perplexing that the Jammu & Kashmir administration proposed reservations for the Kashmiri Pandit community while keeping the minority Sikh community at bay,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina.

“It seems that the Union Territory administration has influenced the working of the Delimitation Commission and the administration has been successful in its endeavour, he said , adding that, “the Delimitation Commission has proposed two seats for the Kashmiri Pandit community and also reservation for SC, ST communities while as no such provision has been kept for the Sikh community.”

“This is despite the fact that Sikh community has been classified as a minority by the National Commission for Minorities,” he further added.

“Sikhs have a sizable population of 3.50 lakhs in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. According to the 2011 Census, the population is 80,000 in Kashmir valley while in Jammu division the population of the community is 2,70,000. This constitutes two percent of the total population of Jammu & Kashmir. The Sikh population of Kashmir is living in far flung areas and is scattered in 127 villages of eight districts of the valley,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina.

“The community members hold sway in some of the assembly constituencies and in these assembly segments the Sikh voters decide the fate of contesting candidates. In the Jammu district there are 43,000 Sikh voters followed by R S Pura 35,000, Samba 16,000, Baramulla 14,770, Srinagar 12,200, Rajouri 12,000 and Tral in Pulwama district 9,440. In most of these assembly constituencies Sikh voters play an important role in sealing the fate of the contestants,” he said.

“The All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) met the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice(Retd.) Ranjana Desai twice and projected the demands but the plea fell on deaf ears. We at APSCC had demanded reservation of some seats in Jammu as well as Kashmir division, but to our dismay and disappointment no seat has been reserved for the Sikhs of Jammu & Kashmir, thus leaving the community members as disenfranchised,” he added.

“From this platform I on behalf of the Sikhs of Jammu and Kashmir appeal all the members of parliament to listen to their inner soul and conscience and oppose the reservation for the members of Kashmiri Pandit community that is based on pure religious lines,” said Raina while talking to reporters.

“The Home Ministry should order a probe about the role of Jammu & Kashmir administration for proposing reservation for Kashmiri Pandits even though they are not mandated to do so,” he said.

“A top gun of RSS had publicly said that the minorities in India including the Sikh community would be turned into second class citizens since the country would become a complete ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Given this fact there is no place for minorities in contemporary India and attacks on the minorities can be attributed to the same imperialist mentality? I also appeal to the Sikhs living in the different parts of world to raise their voice against this injustice and maltreatment,” he added.

“Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir face economical and social problems and also don’t have any representation in the legislature. It is highly unfortunate that the voices of community have not been heard by successive governments at the Centre and the erstwhile state,” APSCC chairman said.

He said that Political representation is of utmost importance and it needs to be given due consideration.

He added that due to the misrepresentation of community in the political dispensation of Jammu & Kashmir burning issues like minority status to Sikhs of Jammu & Kashmir and lack of promotion of Punjabi language are as it is.

“Even though Jammu & Kashmir is a Union Territory the National Minority Act has not been extended as yet since the same recognizes Sikhs as religious minority,,” said APSCC chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina.

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