PCMR urges govt to prevent threat of violence against Sikhs and other minorities

LAHORE, Pakistan: The Peoples’ Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) has expressed its deep concern over the incidents in Nankana Sahib, Peshawar and Karachi over the past two days.

In a statement issued on Monday, the National Council of PCMR said that the threat to violence in Nankana Sahib by a mob, the killing of Sikh young man Parvinder Singh in Peshawar, and a gathering eulogizing the assassin Mumtaz Qadri on the death anniversary of Governor Salman Taseer in Karachi are extremely disturbing developments which should be taken seriously, and called upon the government to take urgent action to address the underlying causes of these manifestations.

Parvinder Singh

The statement was issued by I.A Rehman, the Patron-in-Chief and Peter Jacob, the Chairperson and members of PCMR Dr Kalyan Singh, Dr Rubina Feroze Bhatti, Dr A.H. Nayyar, Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal, Pervez Hoodboy, Kalpana Devi (Advocate), Saroop Ijaz (Advocate), Khursheed Nadeem, Aasiya Nasir (MNA), Saqib Jillani (Advocate), Dr Muhammad Khalid Masud, Fatima Atif, Sanawar Balam, Maria Iqbal Tarana, Najm-uddin, Imran Kabeer, Wajahat Masood, Rubina Massy, Michelle Chaudhry, Advocate Ram Parkash, Bishop Alexander John Malik, Karamat Ali, Justice Kailash Nath Kohli, and Dr Sarah Safdar.

The statement further stated that “Although the police has arrested the miscreant in Nakana Sahib, the incitement to faith-based violence reflects a trend which the government should take cognizance of. Minorities such as Sikhs, are easily identifiable, and for this reason, more vulnerable to hate crimes.

Given the frequency and seriousness of such incidents, the police ought to be extra-vigilant to prevent mob violence, and protect places of worship and worshippers. Special attention needs to be paid to regulating social media which may be used for incitement to further violence in the incident’s aftermath. While the freedom of expression needs to be safeguarded, the elements known for their role in inciting crimes against minorities need to be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

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The statement asserted that “The miscreants in Nankana Sahib who openly instigated violence against the Sikh community can be easily tracked to the mob that had gathered before the Sikh Temple. A criminal investigation should be instituted against them. This will strengthen the government’s claim of fighting extremism.”

It also stated that “Pakistan was created by minorities of India at the time for the peaceful coexistence of people from all religions. This harmony has been under threat and has been disturbed by internal and external factors. Keeping in view the situation in the neighbourhood, particularly India, it is necessary to establish accountability for human rights violations.”

The recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 has created a spate of intolerance in India; therefore, the Pakistani government and people should committed to respect for humanity that they will not be provoked by negative conduct of extremist groups in neighbouring country. We must demonstrate by our conduct that we are peaceful people who seek to maintain peace and good faith with all our compatriots and encourage our neighbours to also inculcate this attitude.”

It’s worth mentioning that on January 4, a mob gathered at Nanaka Sahib where a young man named Imran Chishti made provocative speeches pledging that the city named after Guru Nanak will be changed, and Sikhs and their places of worship will be attacked.

Imran Chishti is reported to be the brother of Hassan who had allegedly forcibly converted and married a Sikh girl Jagjit Kaurr, who is being kept at Dar-ul-Aman, a government-run shelter home for women.

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Whereas Parvinder Singh, who hailed from Swat and worked in Malaysia, visited Peshawar prior to his wedding but therein he was killed by an unidentified assailant on January 5.