Elections 2019: Agitated Kashmiri Sikhs Threaten to Boycott Upcoming LS Polls
Image for representational use only. Image courtesy: Indian Money
As Lok Sabha elections are approaching, political parties are gearing up to appease the voters. But in Jammu and Kashmir, elections are unlike the rest of India. The state is mired up in controversy, one after another, especially in Kashmir. In the latest turn of events, Kashmiri Sikhs have threatened to boycott the upcoming elections in Kashmir, a region which already has an abysmal rate of voter turnout.
As per the Jammu and Kashmir Religion Census 2011, 1.87% of the state’s total population is Sikh, of which 0.98% are residing in Kashmir. As per the Economic Times, the leaders from the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee have claimed that "neither the central nor state government has paid heed to their long-pending demands of extension of Minority Community Act to the state and introduction of Punjabi language in schools and colleges." Speaking to NewsClick, Dilbagh Singh, a Kashmiri Sikh from Baramulla said, "We are not even minority. We belong to micro-minority and we are being neglected. The promises to us have not been fulfilled by any government in the last 30-40 years. The main issue Kashmiri Sikhs community are facing is that we have no representation in the state."
Another Kashmiri Sikh from Srinagar said, "For long we have been raising the issue of Minority status but our voices are ignored. This time we will not participate in the elections. Political parties come to our gurudwara and announce that if voted to power they will fulfill our demands but this time we won't fall in that trap. We have decided not to participate in the electoral process." The Sikhs have also accused successive governments of neglecting them and not having any representation in the "power structures."
Meanwhile, Chairman of All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee Jagmohan Singh Raina told ET that the community is facing discrimination for no fault of others. “We have decided to not participate in the Lok Sabha elections as a mark of protest. This our silent way of conveying that we are angry and have not been treated well,” he said.
Many allege the governments have given them step-motherly treatment. Manmeet Singh of United Sikh Forum told ET, “We have no representation in any power structure. We were given some jobs under non-migrant minority category, which was again taken away by a different community with the help of PDP government."
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