All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) president Manjit Singh Bhoma on Monday said Sikhs should also be given facilities on the lines of Kashmiri pandits now that Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to J&K, has been scrapped.
“Sikhs have been always loyal to the Indian flag, but their political, religious, economic and social interests were overlooked by majorities in J&K and still are,” Bhoma said in a joint statement with AISSF chief advisor Sarabjit Singh Jammu, AISSF advisor Satnam Singh Kanda and another leader, Balwinder Singh Khojkipur.
“Till now Sikhs of J&K were not given minority status there and the status of Punjabi as a second language was also taken back. From 1948 to present date, they were ignored politically and in appointment for bureaucratic posts. Even after these discriminations and facing so many difficulties, Sikhs always kept the flag of India high in J&K. Leaders like PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have assured that the development of Kashmir would be fast-tracked by the Centre government, benefits of which would reach the poorest of the poor,” said the AISSF leaders.
They further said, “Sikhs are a third party in J&K who have always struggled for the welfare of state…they should have been given adequate representation in all type of government functioning — from panchayats to Vidhan Sabha. Sikhs should also be given due representation in government jobs through 33 per cent reservation.”
“After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Raja Gulab Singh and Raja Hari Singh got hold of J&K with the help of Britishers, which was later merged with India in October 1947. During these times, the Sikhs of J&K had made all sacrifices for protection of Kashmir but their interests were overlooked,” they added.