Sikhs across the world are mourning the death of Jaspal Singh, a resident of Peshawar, who has been brutally beheaded by the Taliban in Pakistan and are calling for further action to address such abuses.
He was one of three Sikhs abducted by the Taliban approximately 41 days ago and held for ransom. The other two abductees, Gurvinder Singh, and his uncle Surjeet Singh, are reported to be still in the custody of the Taliban, their release pending their families’ payment of the demanded ransom.
The humanitarian and advocacy group United Sikhs (http://www.unitedsikhs.org/) is appealing to several international and national level human rights organisations for concrete measures that will protect Sikhs and other minorities in Pakistan against such gross injustices
Local sources suggest that Jaspal Singh, Surjeet Singh and Gurvinder Singh, all residents of Dabagaree Garden, Peshawar were en route to Khyber Agency to meet with relatives when Taliban militants kidnapped them in the Chora Tanga Akaakhel area on 21 January 2010.
Initially, the Sikh community in Peshawar was reluctant to report the incident to the media or to the Government due to fear of repercussions from the Taliban. The families, along with the local community and local Sikh leaders attempted to negotiate the release of the three men.
Reports say that the Pakistan Taliban beheaded Jaspal Singh on the night of 20 February, in the Upper Tirah valley Region on the border of Khyber and Orakzai, and threw his body on to the rocks there.
In a letter that was found on the body of Mr Singh, his kidnappers demanded 20 million Pak Rupees ($235,000 US dollars) for the release of the other two Sikhs, warning relatives and the Sikh community against approaching the media.
The letter further stated that the Sikh minority community would risk the lives of the two Sikhs in captivity and could also face threats of suicide attacks if the details of beheading and kidnapping were revealed to the media or security forces.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and other Sikh governing bodies have strongly renounced the attacks, and Sikh communities across the world are in mourning.
They argue that it would be wrong to give in to threats of intimidation.
United Sikhs has been working with the families who took refuge in the Peshawar Gurdwara last year and has been helping them to establish small businesses and start a new life in safer regions.
As part of the relief efforts for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), a United Sikhs advocacy group met with the Pakistan Minister on Minority Affairs in 2009 and brought to his notice the plight of the Peshawar Sikhs. These families are yet to receive IDP status.