Taliban beheads two Sikhs

Last Updated: Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 23:12

Peshawar/Islamabad: Two Sikhs who were
kidnapped over a month back have been beheaded by the
Pakistani Taliban in the country`s restive tribal belt in a
brutal act by the militants.

Some more members of the minority community are still in
the custody of the rebels.

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 tonight.

There was confusion about the total number of Sikhs
who were kidnapped for ransom from the Bara area of Khyber
Agency by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. A source said four
Sikhs were abducted while another report said the total number
of kidnapped persons was six.

The Sikhs were kidnapped 34 days ago and the Taliban
had demanded Rs 30 million as ransom for their release. Two of
the kidnapped Sikhs were beheaded after the expiry of the
deadline for the payment of the ransom, sources said.

Gurvinder Singh and Gurjit Singh are still in the
custody of the militants, sources said.

The kidnapping occurred in an area where there the
government has virtually no control and the militants are in a
dominant position, sources said.

A sizeable number of Sikhs lived 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.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Taliban had dumped
the heads of the two victims at a Gurudwara in Peshawar.

An estimated 10,000 Sikhs live in the NWFP and tribal
areas, descendants of those who chose not to move to India
during the partition in 1947.

In 2009, the Taliban in Pakistan?s North West Frontier
Province (NWFP) forced the minority Sikh population to pay it
lakhs of rupees as religious tax.

The Sikh community has been facing an uncertain future
after fleeing fighting between security forces and the
Taliban.

Brig Mehmood Shah, former security secretary of
Federally Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) of Pakistan
described the Taliban act as horrendous and must be condemned
in the strongest terms.

"It is really a horrendous act. It is really shameful,"
he told a TV channel.

Beheading received with shock in India

The reports from Pakistan that
the Taliban had beheaded two Sikhs in its north west province
have been received with shock here tonight but there was no
immediate comment by the government which was ascertaining the
details.

"We are aware of these media reports. If it is true then
it`s a matter of shock. We are ascertaining the facts,"
official sources said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 23:12

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