October 2017 News

Removal Of Security Pickets From Sikh Villages Worries Community

3 October 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
M Aamir Khan

Srinagar: The issue of withdrawal of security pickets from the Sikh-dominated areas of the Kashmir valley has unnerved the minority community members. Even as these pickets at several villages were reinstated after pleas, the Sikhs say a few other areas were still without these pickets and this had created a sense of insecurity among them. 'First, these pickets were removed from several Sikh-dominated villages of south Kashmir. Later, after pleas from our sides, many were reinstated. However, the strength of personnel at some pickets has reduced while these have not been put back in place in other places. This has created fear in us,' said Kashmira Singh, a resident of Palpora village in south Kashmir. These pickets had been set up after the infamous Chattisinghpora massacre of 2000 in south Kashmir in which 35 Sikhs had been killed. 'After 35 Sikhs got killed in the Chattisinghpora massacre, these security pickets were set up even though this was not our demand then. Now, they removed the same without consulting us and this has unnecessarily created suspicion. First you set them up and then you withdraw them.this is bound to create fear amongst us,' said All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina. 'Sikhs did not ask for security after Chattisinghpora massacre but it was a government decision. After removal, these pickets were reinstated at several villages. However, in south Kashmir villages like Palpora and Kolghar near Achbal, pickets have not been put back. Also, three to six policemen were deployed earlier but now their strength has decreased at a few places like Chatrargam and Tral,' Raina said. Tehal Singh of Palpora said the government should refrain from further withdrawing of these pickets or reduction in the number of personnel guarding them. Raina said they had raised the matter with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and were hoping that the government would restore the confidence among the minority community. 'We met the Chief Minister recently and raised these concerns before her. We hope that the government does not disappoint us and takes due steps so that the Sikh community can live in an atmosphere of peace,' he said.