(Mr. Mohammad Saleem Pandit, 45, was born in Srinagar. He completed his schooling from the Tyndale Biscoe Memorial School, and his B.A. from the Sri Pratap College, Srinagar. He subsequently completed the L.L.B. degree from the University of Kashmir. He ventured into journalism by starting a new fortnightly magazine called, "Submission." Later he joined the Indian Express Srinagar Bureau, and since 2000, has been the Srinagar Bureau chief of the Times News Network, TNN.)
Embrace Islam or leave Valley, Sikhs threatened
SRINAGAR: Sikhs in the Kashmir Valley have received anonymous letters from Islamic militants asking them to either embrace Islam and join the protests against civilian killings or pack up and leave the Valley. The 60,000-strong Sikh community is the single largest minority group in the Valley.
An organisation of Kashmiri Sikhs said that several community members have received these letters. "Community members have received unsigned letters at various places," said All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (ASCC) coordinator Jagmohan Singh Raina. He said the community has decided to stay put and fight these "evil designs" at a meeting in Srinagar on Thursday.
Raina quoted a letter as saying: "When you are enjoying the joys here, why can't you share the grief and sorrow of Kashmiris as well? We know you are afraid of bullets... Hold protests inside gurdwaras or leave Kashmir." He added, "Some letters have asked Sikhs to embrace Islam."
Raina urged both factions of the Hurriyat, JKLF and PoK-based United Jihad Council to take serious note of the threats to maintain amity and brotherhood in the Valley.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has reassured the Sikhs saying they shouldn't feel threatened and should ignore the "fake letters". He assured the community that nobody would force them to join the protests.
Earlier, Geelani has made an emotional appeal against forcing minorities to join the protests and said harming them would be like "inflicting a wound on his (Geelani's) body".
The state unit of Akali Dal (Badal) president Ajeet Singh Mastana described the threats as acts by anti-social elements. "The threats can't break us and reduce our love for our motherland," he said.
IMMEDIATE REACTION OF J&K GOVERNMENT
Govt denies harassment of Sikhs
Terms it propaganda, conspiracy
Rising Kashmir News
Srinagar: Government has strongly denied the report published in a national daily regarding harassment of a particular community in Kashmir by a majority community by way of letters. A government spokesman termed the report as a deliberate attempt to malign a strong secular image of people of Kashmir outside the state. He said that letters written by any one mischievous person can’t be projected as view of majority.
The spokesman said that all the communities are living amicably in the valley and cited the instance of a group of people, who performed last rites of their brother belonging to other community just the other day, which was hailed by entire media.
The spokesman while terming the story of the national newspaper as a figment of imagination and falsehood said that the valley of Kashmir is the bedrock of strong, secular ideology, which has been established by it during all the testing times. He further said that news report is aimed at creating confusion at a time when the situation is slowly moving towards normalcy.
He said it seems handiwork of those elements, who are bent on creating wedge between various communities to foment trouble. He said that recently three weeks before one isolated ugly incident which occurred at Tral was unanimously condemned openly by entire population. Even the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah intervened in the matter and all delegation who met him gave assurance for strengthening of mutual relationship and brotherhood.
Meanwhile, the spokesman appreciated the other sections of the media who have always supported the government and the people of Kashmir in projecting the secular image. He said the clear example of this is the successful Amarnath Yatra, where lakhs of devotees paid obeisance at holy cave and the people of Kashmir warmly facilitated their pilgrimage.
Likewise, the spokesman said that the Muslim and Sikh communities in the valley have century old relationship based on mutual respect and love for each other.
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