India condemns `barbaric` beheading of Sikh in Pakistan

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 00:28

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Monday said that India strongly condemns the barbaric killing of a Sikh in Pakistan and added that the matter will be taken up at the Indo-Pak foreign secretary level talks to be held later this week.

“Government of India condemns this barbaric act. Pakistan must ensure the safety of minorities. We are in touch with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and are looking into the matter,” Krishna told reporters outside Parliament.

While assuring that the government will take up the matter with the Pakistani government, Krishna made it clear that all issues concerning the relations between the two countries will be discussed during the talks scheduled to be held in New Delhi on February 25.

"The beheading of two Sikhs is the most unfortunate
and tragic (incident) and we have sought facts from Pakistan,"
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here.

Contrary to media reports which claimed that two Sikhs were beheaded, Krishna said that only one Sikh has been killed by the Taliban while two others are still in their custody.

The victim was kidnapped along with two other Sikhs by Taliban militants from Tirah valley in Khyber Agency near the provincial capital Peshawar.

A letter was found with the body warning the relatives of the deceased and other Sikh locals against disclosing the case to the media. His two other companions, Gorwandar Singh and Surjeet Singh, are still being held captive by the militants.

As per media reports, the Taliban beheaded two Sikhs and threw their heads into a Peshawar gurudwara and that two more Sikhs were still in their custody. The Sikhs were kidnapped 34 days ago and Rs 3 crore was demanded as ransom for their release. The beheadings happened after the expiry of the deadline for the payment of the ransom amid reports that the captured Sikhs were asked to convert to Islam to escape from their deadly fate and were beheaded when they refused to do so.

The body of Jaspal Singh was found in the Khyber tribal region, located a short distance from the provincial capital of Peshawar, while the body of Mahal Singh was found in the Aurakzai Agency, sources said Sunday night.

Ensure safety of Sikhs: SGPC

"This is a condemnable act. The Central government should take up the matter with the Pakistan government to ensure the safety of Sikhs in that area," SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said.

The government in Punjab, the only Sikh majority state in India, has sought the Central government`s intervention to ensure the safety of Sikhs in the restive tribal region in Pakistan.

"The government should not sleep in this matter. Life of Sikhs should be protected," Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Chandigarh.

It is a serious issue: Congress

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that India needs to talk to Pakistan over the incident.

"It is a serious issue and there is a need to talk to Pakistan. It also sends a message to world powers who are trying to differentiate between good and bad Taliban," Tewari told reporters in Delhi.

He said the government had been regularly taking up the issue of providing security to minorities, especially Sikhs, in Pakistan.

Mount pressure on Pakistan: BJP

The BJP has asked the government to mount "diplomatic pressure" on Pakistan to ensure release of the abducted Sikh residents in that country.

Minorities are facing threats in Pakistan and terrorism presents the real picture of that country, said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

An estimated 10,000 Sikhs lived in the NWFP and in the tribal belt, particularly Aurakzai Agency, till the Taliban imposed ‘jiziya’ or religious tax on them last year. Most members of the community then fled to cities across Pakistan.

With IANS inputs

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First Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 00:28

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