Displaced Pak Sikhs return back to their homes in NWFP

The first batch of Sikhs displaced by the military operations against the Taliban in Pakistan`s northwest returned to their homes in the Malakand division today.

Lahore: The first batch of Sikhs
displaced by the military operations against the Taliban in
Pakistan`s northwest returned to their homes in the Malakand
division today.

A total of 250 Sikhs went back to their homes in Swat,
Buner and other parts of the Malakand division, officials
said.

"We are very happy that the return of Sikh IDPs
(internally displaced persons) to their native towns has begun
today," Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Syed Asif Hashmi
told agencies.

"The Sikh IDPs from Buner and Swat will return safely
as the army has given a green signal. However, the IDPs cannot
go back right now to some areas of Malakand which have yet to
be cleansed of militants," Hashmi said.

The Evacuee Trust Property Board looks after Sikh
shrines in Pakistan and has also been taking care of the
relief and rehabilitation of members of minority communities
displaced by the military operations.

About 3,000 Sikhs took shelter in Gurdwara Punja Sahib
at Hasanabdal near Rawalpindi in April after the military
launched a crackdown on the Taliban in Swat and nearby
districts.

Hashmi said the Board would facilitate Sikhs in going
back to their homes. He said he could not give a timeframe for
the return of all the Sikh IDPs.

Gurdwara Punja Sahib wore a festive look as the Sikh
IDPs began going back to their homes. "The Sikh families are
very happy and we pray that peace should last in our areas,"
Surang Sing, a doctor from Buner, told news agencies.

The government of Punjab province has announced a
special relief package of Rs 6 million to help the Sikh IDPs
return to their hometowns.

Bureau Report

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