AMRITSAR: While the repeal of Article 370 and the passing of the Citizenship Change Act (CAA) were welcomed in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, a delegation of Sikhs from the valley invited Sikhs and Hindus from outside India to visit the valley.
“We Kashmiri Sikhs welcome CAA and the repeal of Article 370, and we are delighted when Sikhs and members of the Hindu community who come to India from all over the world can stay with us. We will secure everything for them, including livelihoods, ”said Pervender Singh Chopra, spokesman for the All Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (ASGMC), Kashmir, during an interview with TOI on Sunday.
Chopra was part of a delegation of Sikhs from the valley who met Interior Minister Amit Shah and briefed him on the demands of the Kashmiri Sikhs. Others in the delegation were Baldev Singh Raina, chairman, ASGMC, Kashmir, and members of various Gurdwara committees from Budgam, Pulwama, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, etc.
The spokesman expressed concern about the declining growth rate of the Sikhs in the valley and said they had urged Amit Shah to declare the Sikhs of the Kashmir Valley a minority community.
“We are only 1.5 lakh left with 60,000 registered voters from the Sikh community, which is spread over 6 districts and 135 villages. And we manage 135 gurudwaras, some of which are historical, ”he said.
He said the demarcation in J&K was underway, so they had asked the Interior Minister to reserve two seats for Sikhs, and also asked the Interior Minister to hold a meeting of community officials with the head of the demarcation commission, Ranjana Prakash Desai, who runs the UT visited, to arrange July 6th and 9th. The commission has been given the task of redrawing the constituencies of Lok Sabha and the UT Assembly.
The delegation had also asked the Minister of the Interior to appoint a Sikh advisor to the LG who knows all about Sikhs.
“The Interior Minister listened to us very patiently and assured us that any genuine claims made by the Sikhs living in Kashmir would be accepted and dealt with,” the spokesman said.
He said they had also tried to declare gurdwaras a national heritage and to open the start of international flights in Awantipora specifically for the “darshan” in Mattan Sahib Gurdwara.