SRINAGAR: The All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) has announced its intention to launch a widespread outreach initiative across the Kashmir Valley. The decision was unveiled during a press conference held on Saturday at the “Chokoti Complex” in Srinagar, Kashmir.
Speaking at the conference, APSCC Chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina stated, “The successive governments of Jammu & Kashmir and the central authorities have failed to address the issues faced by the Sikh community, despite being a minority. For decades, we have approached those in power with our legitimate demands, only to be met with indifference and arrogance.”
Raina went on to outline a new strategy ahead of the upcoming elections, declaring that the APSCC would no longer endorse any political party candidates. Instead, they would identify potential candidates within their own community, starting with local body elections. This shift aims to empower the Sikh community and prevent them from being treated merely as a vote bank.
Raina also emphasised their intent to seek support from the majority community, highlighting the enduring bond of ‘Kashmiriyat’ that has been shared through thick and thin. “We have stood with them during times of turmoil and crises, and we will seek their support for candidates we believe have a fair chance of success,” he said.
The Sikh community has faced economic setbacks, having left their villages to seek safety in urban areas during times of unrest. Despite being entitled to certain government packages, these benefits have often been diverted to other minority groups. Raina expressed disappointment in this exploitation of aid meant for the Sikh community.
Additionally, concerns were raised about the Delimitation Commission, which lost credibility after recommending the reservation of two seats for a particular community, a move not well-received in Kashmir. The Sikh community’s demand for reservation in the Jammu & Kashmir assembly has yet to be addressed, despite assurances from the Delimitation Commission.
The APSCC has long advocated for the extension of the National Commission for Minorities to Jammu & Kashmir, but their efforts have been in vain, even after the abrogation of Article 370 and the introduction of numerous central laws. Similarly, the re-introduction of Punjabi language in educational institutions has been neglected, with teachers’ positions being altered or abolished.
While the government has shown commitment to various boards and religious institutions, including the Waqf Board and Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board, the implementation of the Gurdwara Endowment Act has not received the same attention. Despite the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the election of the Jammu & Kashmir Gurdwara Parbandhak Board has yet to take place.
Concluding the conference, Raina announced a departure from their previous stance of supporting political parties and leaders, stating, “The APSCC has decided to boycott political parties and their leaders. Instead, we will empower young and energetic individuals from our community to make a real difference in the fortunes of our members.”
The press conference also included prominent figures such as Principal Niranjan Singh, Sant Singh, Indumeet Singh, Devinder Singh, and several Gurudwara committee members from the Kashmir Valley. Their collective voice reflects the determination of the Sikh community in Kashmir to take control of their own destiny and address long-standing issues.