Demands Awantipura-Mattan Pilgrim Corridor, Job Reservation; Minority Status
Srinagar: Amid the recent controversy over interfaith marriages in Kashmir, a delegation of Sikh activists led by a prominent businessman of Srinagar, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi and sought his immediate intervention to prevent ‘imminent large scale migration’ of Sikhs from Kashmir Valley.
While hailing the repeal of Article 370 and enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the delegation of Sikhs led by Baldev Singh Raina, Chairman All Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, also extended an invitation to Sikhs and Hindus from outside India to settle in the Kashmir valley.
Heaping praise on BJP leadership for abrogation of Article 370, Raina presented a four page letter to Home Minister which read: “A dawn has begun-a terror free and corruption free state which you promised has already started. Sir we are proud Sikhs of the Valley with a heritage which is forgotten by all successive central and state governments.”
The letter by Raina, who also heads Peaks Auto, a Maruti dealership here listed nine demands for the “betterment and welfare of the community”.
The meeting of Sikh delegation was confirmed by the Home Minister on his Twitter handle.
“Met a delegation from All Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee-Kashmir,” Shah posted on Twitter.
“We Kashmiri Sikhs welcome the CAA and the revocation of Article 370. We will be happy if Sikhs and Hindu community members coming to India from any part of the world can stay with us. We will ensure everything for them, including starting of their livelihood,” the letter reads.
Besides, the delegation also demanded minority community status for the Sikhs of the Kashmir valley, “whose chairman should be from the Sikh community. We are only 1.5 Lakhs left with 60,000 registered voters from Sikh community which is spread to 6 districts and 135 villages.”
Raina said his group manages about 135 gurdwaras in the valley, some of which are historical.
In view of the delimitation process currently underway in J&K, the delegation demanded reservations for two seats i.e. Baramulla and Srinagar/Tral for Kashmiri Sikhs in the assembly.
“We used to enjoy two seats in Poonch and Baramulla. Now Poonch has gone to Jammu. We requested Union Govt. to kindly reserve two Assembly seats Baramulla and Srinagar/Tral for Kashmiri Sikhs in the House”, reads the demand letter.
They said they have maximum villages in these two districts and want to bring changes in their democratic strength.
In another demand, delegation demanded appointment with immediate effect a Sikh advisor to the J&K Lieutenant Governor, who knows each and everything about Sikhs.
Another key demand made is that Awantipura airport be declared as “Baba Guru Nanak Dev Airport”, as it is very close to Mattan Sahib Gurudwara, where the first Sikh Guru had come in 1516 AD and stayed for almost 12 days.
“Gurdwara Mattan Sahib should be declared as National Heritage and international flights should land at Awantipura for darshan of this gurdwara. The road between the airport and Gurudwara Mattan Sahib should be made a dedicated corridor through which Sikhs can come and develop markets, hotels. This area will become a major tourist hub as we expect major international tourist arrival on a daily basis who will definitely want to visit other places in valley and Jammu”, read the letter.
The letter also sought “job reservation on an urgent basis to stop Sikh migration from Kashmir. In the last many years, no govt. in the state has given them jobs and due to which they are gradually shifting to other parts of the country and world.”
“We also request you sir to kindly arrange a special recruitment drive from Central/State forces for valley Sikhs and formation of a local regiment on the lines of JAKLI for the Sikhs of Kashmir Valley, JK Sikh Light Infantry. “We know in and out of the valley and will make a significant change in the fight against terror in Kashmir,” the letter reads.
It also urged the Centre to consider the appointment of the micro minorities living in Kashmir for the posts still vacant under the Prime Minister Relief package for migrants, of which more than 50% seats are still vacant.
“We lost 35000 Sikhs in Choora near Baramulla on National Highway. That place should be demarcated and a National Monument should be built in that place,” reads the letter, adding “Govt should make it compulsory to introduce Punjabi language in the study so that Sikh history can’t be diluted.”
Meanwhile, When Kashmir Observer contacted Baldev Singh Raina to know about the veracity of the letter, he feigned ignorance saying, he has no knowledge about the letter that is going viral on social media.
“Someone told me about the letter but I will have to check it before making any comment,” he said.
Raina, however, categorically denied that the letter has to do anything with his recent meeting with the Home Minister.
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