More sick details on jizya against Sikhs

August 22, 2010

On Wednesday, Malkajgiri Lok Sabha blog posted an article about the slaughter of Sikh religious minorities in Pakistan.  Money Jihad has covered the imposition of the jizya on the Sikhs before (here, here, here, and here) but what caught my attention was the unprecedented detail that this post provided.  Take a gander of this excerpt:

The phenomenon “Pakistani Taliban” was unknown before 9/11. However, the significance of Jihadi elements in the tribal belt can be traced back to the early 80’s when the area became a launching pad for the CIA and ISI-driven holy war (jihad) against the former Soviet Union. With the Soviet withdrawal, the US agenda of jihad inside Afghanistan ended. But the strategic importance of the area remained intact for Pakistan which had to use, for many years to come, the tribal area for running training camps for jihadis, pursuing its policy of strategic depth against India as well as to have an upper hand with neighbouring Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, these games did not disturb the traditional tribal way of life and the Sikh families were living a normal life as before. With the rise of Pakistani Taliban in the past few years and their march to take control of the tribal areas, the traditional tribal code of ethics which ensured security for the Sikh community in the area gave way to the extremist ideology of Taliban. After establishing their writ, Taliban offered three options to non-Muslims — “Become Muslims, pay jizya or vacate the area.”

To set an example, Taliban last year demolished 11 houses of the Sikh community in the Orakzai Agency for refusing to pay ‘jizya’. The action was ordered by the then Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) chief for Orakzai Agency, Hakimullah Mehsud, after the deadline given to the Sikh community for payment of jizya passed.

“Sharia had been enforced in the area and every non-Muslim has to pay protection money”, Hakimullah Mehsud had announced. Mehsud, who became the chief of the Pakistani Taliban after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike last August, was also reportedly killed in a similar US drone attack.

The Sikh community, comprising 30 to 35 families shifted from the Feroze Khel area to the nearby Merozai in Lower Orakzai Agency because they could not arrange the Rs. 150 million (180,000 dollars) demanded by the Taliban.

The Taliban had forcibly occupied shops of Sikh businessmen and houses of several Sikhs compelling them to pay jizya. Later, several Sikh families refused to accept the Taliban demand and preferred to quit Orakzai Agency for safer places. Most of the tribal families belonging to a Khatri cast migrated to Peshawar and different parts of Hangu and Kohat districts due to the fear of Taliban.

The jizya demand highlights how the Taliban onslaught has toppled decades of consistent social harmony between Pashtun tribesmen and religious minorities. An estimated 10,000 Sikhs living in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province have quietly thrived as traders, shopkeepers and farmers often providing a middle-class backbone to poor societies. They are the descendants of families that stayed behind at the time of partition in 1947, protected by communities that valued them. They have become an integrated part of Pashtun society – attending weddings and funerals, even getting involved in hashish and opium smuggling.

When fighting intensified between militants and security forces in the Swat region last May, a Sikh doctor Gian Singh remained at the city hospital after all other staff had fled. “We lived with the people like brothers. I even treated wounded Taliban who were brought to my clinic”, said Singh.

The arrival of the long-haired Taliban fighters in tribal areas and Swat, brandishing AK 47 rifles steamrolled the previous sense of tolerance.

For the Taliban, collection of jizya meant the generation of funds to get arms and ammunition to spread their reign of terror, says Prakash Singh, a college student whose family refused to pay jizya to the Taliban in Orakzai Agency and left the area sometime back.

“Speaking frankly, tribal areas no longer remain places for minority communities. The Taliban have forcibly imposed jizya upon us. How can we live like this? If ordinary Muslims live in fear of the Taliban, then what sort of a future do we have here? We have our own identity and religion and we cannot mix it with theirs”, Prakash Singh emphatically said.

After Hakimullah Mehsud imposed jizya in Orakzai, other militant leaders also followed suit. The next in line was Mangal Bagh, a militant leader of Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) in Khyber Agency who established the practice of paying jizya in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. At least 40 families left the Tirah valley while some 15 families gave into Mangal Bagh’s demand. Even paying jizya could not ensure the security of their lives.

Last month, a TTP commander of the Khyber tribal region, Tariq Afridi, abducted three members of the Sikh community for ransom. Reportedly, a delegation of Sikh elders went to Mangal Bagh two weeks back to help release the abductees from the clutches of the TTP commander. But to no avail. The two Sikhs, Jaspal Singh and Mahal Singh were brutally slaughtered by Afridi when the deadline for paying the ransom expired.

Emphasis above is mine.  Read the full post here.

One comment

  1. its now happening in Muslim Majority area of India too…


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