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Taliban behead 2 Pak Sikhs

Peshawar/Islamabad, February 21
Two Sikhs, who were kidnapped over a month ago, 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 on them last year. Most members of the community then fled to cities across Pakistan.

According to uncofirmed reports, the Taliban had dumped the heads of the two victims at a gurdwara 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. — PTI



SGPC condemns incident

Amritsar, February 21
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today strongly condemned the beheading of Sikhs in Pakistan and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the matter with his counterpart in Pakistan.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said, “The SGPC and entire Sikh community strongly condemns the brutal murder of Sikhs at Peshawar in Pakistan by Taliban.”

He asked the Prime Minister to take up the matter with Pakistan government and ask it to provide adequate security to the minority Sikh community, as they were not safe in Pakistan.

He also demanded that the Prime Minister make immediate arrangements for an SGPC delegation to visit Pakistan to take stock of the situation.

Makkar said the SGPC firmly stood with the Sikhs living in Peshawar and all over Pakistan and was always ready to extend all possible help to them.

Even, the Indian government is in a state of shock after receiving the news reports, but there was no immediate comment by the government that 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



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