March 2001 News

Jammu also not safe for migrated Sikhs

20 March 2001
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: The journey for Mohan Singh and Lakhbir Singh from Jammu to Poonch proved fatal. The duo were abducted and later beheaded by militants in the mountains of Surankote — a stunningly beautiful area in the middle of Pir Panjal overlooking Suran nullah. The two Sikhs were hitch-hiking their way to Poonch on March 9. When failed to get lift near Dundak-militancy infested area — in the middle of Surankote and Poonch — they ventured on foot to reach their destination. The step proved fatal. Militants picked them up. Their beheaded bodies were found on March 16, exactly a week after abduction. It was the time when United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was visiting the country. “It could be that the killings coincided with the Annan's visit,”feels R V Raju, Inspector General of Police, Jammu zone. This was the first incident of the killing of Sikhs in this fashion in Jammu region. Earlier, all the killings of Sikhs were confined to the Valley — March 20, 2000 massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora in Anantnag, south Kashmir; the February 3 massacre which claimed lives of seven Sikhs of Mehjoor Nagar, Srinagar, and a fortnight later, killing of Sikh policemen in Baramulla, north Kashmir. These killings had scared the Sikhs in the Valley up to such an extent that they started migrating to Jammu. But this incident had shaken their faith in Jammu region. With the murder of the duo, the militants want to give a loud and clear message to minorities to leave the State. The domination of mountains and further consolidation of their positions during the more then four-month-long ceasefire has emboldened the militants and accordingly they have intensified their attacks on mainly the security forces and minorities. It is like Chittisinghpora happening in Jammu, the community feels. “We see a pattern in it,” Paramjit Singh, a resident of Srinagar, who has migrated with his family to Jammu, said. For the time being he is staying with his relatives in Nanak Nagar and is looking for some business opportunity. A small time shopkeeper, Paramjit has vowed that he would never go back to the Valley. “What for,” he asks and answers himself: “to become sacrificial goat.” There are many others who have migrated here. They have not allowed their migration to be noticed. Not even by the authorities. The reason is same: “What would authorities give us — a refugee status. We don"t want that,” says Narinder Singh of Baramullah, who is also staying with his relatives.


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