As Kashmir continues to be under siege, many from the community of Kashmiri Sikhs – a micro-minority in Kashmir – feel dejected by the Centre’s decision to revoke the autonomy of Kashmir. Although miniscule in number [1.5-2% of the population], Kashmiri Sikhs have cohabited with the majority Kashmiri Muslim community even during the peak of insurgency.
After the Chattisinghpura massacre, in which 35 Sikh men were killed in the broad daylight, the Kashmiri Sikhs were expected to leave the valley en masse, but they stayed. Time and again, Kashmiri Sikhs have rejected any attempt to disintegrate and divide Kashmir along the communal lines.
Amidst the issue of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and the explicit nature of the resistance in Kashmir, the oft-neglected Kashmiri Sikhs still continue to live in Kashmir. For Kashmiri Sikhs, insurgency was never a big threat, but the manner in which they have been stripped of their rights definitely is one.
Speaking to NewsClick, Bhupinder Singh, former secretary of Indian Dental Association and executive of State Dental council, J&K, said, “Not just Kashmiri Sikhs, Sikhs in Jammu and Poonch and the other parts of our state too are not in favour of this decision. Our roots are in Kashmir and this is our state. We should have been consulted before taking a decision about our future. We witnessed Chattisingpora massacre, which is still shrouded in mystery. No justice has been served to us [post the massacre]. Yet, we never left our land. We always proved our loyalty to the state in democratic ways. In simple words, this is not democracy. This decision was not for the people. There is a communication blockade. We don’t know whether our loved ones are fine and safe.”
While the lifting of special rights and demotion of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir received support from the majority of Dogras and migrant Kashmiri Pandits, many Kashmiri Sikhs believe that the decision was a blunder. “They have committed a big blunder,” iterated Jagmohan Singh Raina, president of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, while speaking to Reuters.
Another Kashmiri Sikh, Rabinder Singh, told NewsClick, “Kashmiri Sikhs have never been harassed by the majority community in Kashmir. We have always lived in harmony and peace. But this step has created uncertainty in our minds as well and now, we are worried about our future. We are disappointed.”
The fear and insecurity among the Sikh community in Jammu and Kashmir also stems from the 1984 Sikh Massacre. A Sikh from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, requesting anonymity, said, “Sikhs have seen 1984 and they know how the state functions. The government can’t mislead us in the name of religion, hatred or majority-minority status. Sikhs have never cowed down, nor will we now. Our rights can’t be revoked like this.”
On August 5, the central government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution and carved two Union territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. A week before taking the decision, thousand troops were dispatched to the state. At present, Kashmir continues to be under a communication blockade.