Srinagar: A Kashmir Sikh group met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to demand clemency for five Sikhs who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1984 and action against those responsible for the killing of seven people in the 2000 Pathribal shootout.
The delegation, which met Chidambaram in Jammu Tuesday, was led by Jagmohan Singh Raina, president of the all-party Sikh coordination committee.
“We gave a memorandum to the home minister in which we have demanded befitting punishment to those responsible for framing seven civilians as terrorists and later killing them in a fake encounter in Pathribal in March 2000 as perpetrators of Sikh massacre in Chatisinghpora village,” said Raina.
“The real killers of 35 innocent Sikhs in Chatisinghpora are still to be brought to justice,” he said.
The Sikh delegation, he said, also demanded clemency for five Sikh youths belonging to Jammu and Kashmir who had hijacked an Indian Airlines Srinagar-Jammu flight to Pakistan in 1984.
“If Hashim Qureshi, who hijacked an Indian plane to Lahore and later torched it there, can live freely in Srinagar why can’t five Sikh youths be allowed to return to their homes,” Raina asked.
Six Sikh youths – one from Punjab, four from Jammu and one from Badgam district of the state – had hijacked the flight.
Before that, in 1971, Hashim Qureshi had hijacked a Fokker Friendship Srinagar-Jammu flight to Pakistan.
Kashmiri Sikhs have also demanded reservations for their children who had suffered immensely during the past 22 years of violence in the Valley, Raina said.
“Our children have lived in extremely difficult situations. They have suffered heavily with regard to their education and as such they cannot compete on a level playfield with children from other parts of the country in competitive exams for professional courses and all India services.
“We have asked the home minister that the central government must give reservations to Kashmiri Sikh children in various professional colleges of the country,” Raina asserted.
The local Pandit community migrated en mass during the beginning of armed violence in the Valley in early 1990s, but over 70,000 Sikhs still continue to live here in various cities, towns and villages.