Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha met a delegation of Sikh community of Kashmir under the banner of ‘United Kashmiri Sikhs Progressive Forum’ led by its Chairman Baldev Singh Raina at the Raj Bhavan here Sunday.
An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that the delegation comprising religious leaders, civil society members, educators, and professionals from the Sikh community apprised LG Sinha about the issues and demands of the Sikhs living in J&K.
Interacting with the delegation, the LG said that the incumbent government was committed towards inclusive development and welfare of all sections of the society.
He assured the delegation that all their genuine issues would be taken up for redress expeditiously.
LG Sinha said that Sikhism binds people in the thread of unity and the community was selflessly serving humanity for ages.
“The supreme sacrifices of the people from the Sikh community in the freedom struggle can never be forgotten. They have always led from the front and encouraged others with their unity and strength,” he said.
Responding to the demands put forth by the delegation, the LG said that the J&K administration would take immediate and appropriate action to address them.
“The government is working for the promotion of Punjabi language in J&K in a well-planned manner,” he said.
Referring to the recent launch of the Kashmir Pandit portal, the LG said to the members of the delegation that all possible assistance would be provided to bring back the displaced Kashmiri Pandits who want to return to their native land.
He said that the government was adopting an integrated approach to establish sustained peace in J&K.
Speaking on the employment opportunities for the youth, the LG urged the members of the delegation to connect the youngsters from the community with various schemes of Mission Youth launched by the J&K administration.
He assured the delegation that the government would provide assistance in the modernisation of all religious institutions in J&K.
The LG also conveyed that the issues regarding reservation would be discussed with the concerned authorities at the Centre.
Several representatives of the Sikh communities from various districts also spoke on the occasion and apprised the LG about their issues and aspirations.
Earlier, the delegation submitted an 11-point charter of demands to LG Sinha.
Speaking on the occasion, ‘United Kashmiri Sikhs Progressive Forum’ Chairman S Baldev Singh Raina said that the amalgamation of Sikhs into non-political socio-religious groups was the need of the hour and for the last 70 years the condition of Sikhs was deteriorating day by day.
He demanded that social and cultural identity of the Sikh community should be preserved apart from this Kashmiri Sikhs should be declared and considered as socially and economically backward class.
Raina reminded the government that since the inception of Minority Commission in 1992, Kashmiri Sikhs who were in the microscopic population were still deprived of this benefit and called for bringing Sikhs into its ambit immediately with the appointment of its chairman from the Sikh community.
Raina expressed the concerns of Sikh community that during the ongoing delimitation process in J&K, at least two seats in the assembly should be reserved for Kashmiri Sikhs.
He said that to have a deep understanding of the issues and problems faced by the Sikhs of Kashmir at least one Advisor to Lt Governor should be from the community itself.
Raina said that a special job package for Kashmiri Sikhs should be introduced by the Centre which might help in retaining the educated Sikh youth in Kashmir.
He said that the Punjabi language should be introduced as the official language of J&K.
The delegation which represented a cross section of Sikh community included all the District Gurudwara Prabandhak committees, religious scholars elected to DDCs from Pulwama and Baramulla districts, members of civil Society, reputed educationists, eminent doctors, various think-tanks, intellectuals, social activists, various NGOs and youth wings of Kashmiri Sikhs.