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Sikh group meets interlocutor, seeks minority status in J&K

Srinagar, Nov 7 (UNI) All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) on Tuesday met interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and sought minority status in Jammu and Kashmir as per norms of the Minority Commission of India.

Mr Sharma arrived in Srinagar on Monday on a five-day tour to the state to hold talks with all 'stakeholders' in Kashmir.

“It is a matter of concern that even after 70 years the Sikh minority in J&K are being denied the minority status and instead the majority community of India is demanding minority status in the state, which apart from being a matter of shame also infringes on the basic rights of minorities,” APSCC Chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.

He also said the minorities be given an employment package at par with the migrants to stop their silent migration from the valley.

“We the Sikh minority of J&K have expectations from anyone whosoever comes from Center for holding dialogue to bring peace to the valley, since the Sikh minority is in a dilemma because of this turmoil in the valley. We have met many interlocutors in the past with the hope that someone somewhere may do something for the Sikh minority but unfortunately all previous reports are gathering dust, which as a result has dashed our hopes,” he said.

He said Mr Sharma who has been assigned the job to hold a dialogue in the valley and record grievances must heed to the grievances of the Sikh minority, who have always come forward to put their point of view so that peace prevails in the valley.
“A delegation led by me met with the interlocutor and asked him to hold an inquiry on Kashmir disturbances which have shattered the economy of the valley, led to a lot of bloodshed and disgruntled the youth and public general at large,” Mr Raina said.

The APSCC chairman said people of Kashmir have seen allegations being hurled towards them right from 1953 when Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was put behind the bars.
“Thereafter many such incidents which included many times toppling of government, use of pellet guns, denying jobs to the majority community has risen the graph of alienation in the valley,” he added.

He said hitting the Article 370 and Article 35A is adding fuel to the fire.
“All these actions that are further increasing the alienation in the valley need a thorough probe, so that people of Kashmir can understand the actual forces behind these malicious designs. We have felt that Centre has never been serious in holding dialogue with the real stakeholders of the valley,” he said.

Mr Raina said it’s very important to take into confidence the other sections which include three main Hurriyat leaders and big chunk of Gurjars and Shias.
“We also cannot ignore the people of Jammu, Dogras and people from Pahari areas of Jammu Province. It seems the only way forward is how the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee acted on this. We cannot bring peace unless Modi-led government sincerely and seriously takes initiative of an All-Stakeholder dialog. The displacement of Kashmiri pandits in the past was a casualty of turmoil and for the past 30 years many lakhs of people in Kashmir have suffered because of the volatile situation. The only way forward is a serious dialogue that can bring peace to the valley,” he added.
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