KV Network

Being unfair

Being unfair
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The Sikh community living in Kashmir Valley has been alleging discrimination by the administration and has been demanding their share in all spheres of life including jobs in government sector. Their demands for rehabilitation have been one of the main claims the community has been making since the past two decades now.

The Sikhs have been alleging that the state government and the Centre have been very unkind to them. The Sikhs believe that they are the most neglected religious minorities in Kashmir. Though most of the Sikhs stayed back when Kashmiri Pandits left the valley during the height of militancy, the Sikhs say they have not got a fair deal.

Jammu and Kashmir has 3.7 lakh Sikhs. Of them 80,000 are in Kashmir valley. Rest are living in Jammu region. More than 30,000 Sikhs live in Srinagar. Before the onset of militancy, the Sikhs were controlling the agriculture sector across the valley. Some of the biggest apple and saffron growers were Sikhs, not Muslims. But the Sikh migration to cities hit the agriculture hard and so has their dependence on services sector for their survival.

The Sikhs allege that they are being discriminated against as the focus of the government is only on the Kashmiri Pandits. The Sikhs in Kashmir have been demanding a minorities’ status for the community, which the government is not heeding to.

The community also has a grudge that the government has failed to hold election to Sikh GurudwaraPrabhandak Board of the Jammu and Kashmir for the past 10 years. Though nothing substantial was done by the state as well as the central government to benefit the community, the Sikhs had approached the state high court for seeking relief.

However, the court also dismissed a plea to the extent it sought to treat Sikh community at par with Kashmiri Pandits staying in the Valley for employment purposes pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Package.

The court decision came in a case titled ‘Kashmiri Sikh Community and Others versus State of J&K and Others.’ In its plea before the High Court, the Sikh community was seeking special dispensation in employment given in favour of Kashmiri Pandits in terms of SRO 425 dated 10 October 2017 following the amendment to J&K Migrants (Special Drive) Recruitment Rules 2009.

The court said the SRO which was under challenge only makes a valid classification in sync with the Articles 14 and 16 of Indian Constitution.

The petitioners contended that SRO 425 dated 10th October 2017, whereby the Rules of 2009 stand amended violated their rights as the Sikh community staying in Kashmir Valley were treated differently than the similarly placed Kashmiri Pandits for the purposes of extending the Prime Minister’s Employment Package.

The petitioners contended that the State has ventured into class legislation and has treated persons in the same class differently.

In its objections, the government however said that the two communities- Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs- living in the Valley do not form the same class and, therefore, classification made by the respondents for providing the benefit of employment to one person per family to the Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley is a valid classification and meets the requirement of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

The court’s denial to accept the sikh community’s plea has once again brought them before the government for seeking redressal of their grievances. However, the government too seems unconcerned to mitigate their sufferings. This continuous denial by the government does not augur well for the all inclusive concept of Kashmiriyat where every community feels as an equal stake holder. The Sikhs have been an important component of Kashmiri society and their genuine demands demand a serious thought.



KV Network

Kashmir Vision cover all daily updates for the newspaper

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