US Sikhs ask Obama to Intervene on Beheading

Washington, Feb 24 (IANS) Outraged over the beheading of a Sikh by the Pakistan Taliban, Sikhs in the US have urged President Barack Obama to take up the issue with Islamabad.

In a letter to Obama Tuesday, Washington-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) said the US president should intervene immediately to pressure Pakistan to bring the killers to justice.

"The US government must press upon the Pakistan government to take stern action against the perpetrators of these horrendous acts. It is the primary duty of the Pakistan government to intervene on behalf of the Sikhs and other minorities and protect them from any atrocities committed by Tehreek-e-Taliban," said SCORE chairman Rajwant Singh in his letter to Obama.

The letter said: "Since last year the religious freedom of the Sikhs has been threatened and they have been forced to leave their centuries-old dwellings in the Orakzai Agency and adjacent areas.

"We are appalled that some Sikhs in Pakistan were being coerced into becoming Muslims. Last year some Sikh families had been taken hostage in Pakistan and forced to pay 'jaziya' (religious tax). These kinds of atrocities cannot be tolerated at any cost and we must ask for security and well-being of all communities in Pakistan."

Singh said the organisation has received calls and e-mails from Sikhs all over the US expressing their outrage over the beheadings.

"As American citizens, we request you (Obama) to express our sentiments to President (Asif Ali) Zardari. We will continue to work with the State Department, congressional leaders at the Capitol Hill and the White House on this issue," Singh said in the letter.

The Sikh leader they had written a similar letter about the plight of the Sikhs in Pakistan to Obama last year prior to his meeting with Zardari at the White House.

Obama reportedly raised the issue of security of Sikhs and other minorities with the visiting Pakistani leader.

Last year too, Taliban militants took over shops and homes of 35 Sikh families and kidnapped community leaders in Ferozkhel in the Orakzai Agency, the letter to Obama said.



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