Sikhs forced to pay millions to Taleban
Guru Gobind Singh fought against the reinstatement of the protection tax that Aurangzeb had once again levied against all non-Muslims in India. In fact in the battle of Battle of Nadaun (20 March 1691) he joined with several neighbouring hill chieftains including, Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur (Bilaspur), to defeat a Mughal force bent on collecting the hated ‘jizya’ tax. Guru Gobind Singh believed in giving people second chances, for only the year before, Bhim Chand and a force of about 30,000 men had tried to drive the Guru and 4,000 Sikhs out of Paonta Sahib (Battle of Bhangani) ; a battle the out numbered Sikhs had won.
But although it's more than 300 years later, militants, calling themselves Muslims are trying to collect the tax again, forcing Hindus and Sikhs to finance their war on their fellow Muslims. The trouble is, however, that other rival militant groups are doing the same thing - some even threatening to kill anyone not willing to convert to Islam. While Sufi Mohammad (the Mullah who had brokered a peace deal, that the taleban quickly broke, invading the neighboring district of Buner) has been arrested (again) and is being questioned to see if he is once again inciting violence against the Government of Pakistan, Mullah Omar is promising a kinder, friendlier taleban where only he can order the heads of their prisoners - cut off. He has also ordered the taleban to quit kidnapping anyone for ransom money. An ordeal a Sikh community leader in Oraksai had just been rescued from recently. His fellow Sikhs had turned over their hard earned savings for his release and a promise of protection of their shops and homes. Properties that were promptly robbed and destroyed once the Sikhs had left. (See - Previous News from the NW of Pakistan)
In a story in the news today (Monday, 27 Jul, 2009) titled - Sikhs, Hindus dread Taliban tax in northwest Pakistan Dawn.com on 27 July, 2009
Previous News from the NW of Pakistan
Calling it Jizia (protection tax) the taleban have robbed Sikhs of Crores of Rupees (about USD 150,000). After promising them safety, they then warned them them were about to attack. Sikh families as well as Hindu, Christian and non-Sunnis and even Sunnis who dare oppose them are coming under increasing attacks from the taleban.
Convert to Islam, join the jihad or pay five billion rupees
The Taliban issued an ultimatum in March to the elders of more than 25 Sikh families in the Orakzai tribal agency near the Afghan border: Convert to Islam, join the jihad or pay five billion rupees — roughly $62 million — for protection.
‘We couldn’t pay that amount. We were farmers,’ said a young Sikh who asked to be identified only as Singh, because he was too terrified to give his full name or location. He fidgeted nervously, and his voice became little more than a whisper as he recalled the Taliban’s threat to take a Sikh leader to South Waziristan to decide his fate if the extortion money wasn’t paid.
The villagers persuaded the Taliban to reduce the amount to 12 million rupees or $150,000 — still a princely sum for the Sikh community. But Singh said they raised enough money to get their elder released, with a promise to pay the rest by March 29.
On March 28, he said, the Sikhs paid the full amount, and the Taliban promised to protect them anywhere in Pakistan. But by 10 p.m. that day, the Taliban had told Sikh elders they were preparing to attack.
By two a.m., the elders had packed everyone into cars and trucks, and more than 150 Sikhs fled to Peshawar, the provincial capital of the northwest.
‘What are we to do? We have nothing,’ Singh said. ‘We have asked the government of Pakistan, either relocate us to somewhere safe or send us to India.’
- Source: al Jazeera, Thurs. March 14th, 2009
50 Sikh families vanished
50 Sikh families have been vanished from Orakzai agency of FATA. After paying over Rs6 million in jizia demanded by the taleban the Sikh's possesions were sold and they were forced to leave the area. Not since the Mughal Empire have Sikhs been threatened with the once hated jizia tax. Sikh bussinesses and homes have been siezed in Orakzai, where the Sikh families have lived for hundreds of years in what is now called FATA, the taleban had ordered the 11 or so families to pay Rs150 million. The Sikhs refused and eleven homes were destroyed.
- source Dawn News
Taliban raze houses of Sikhs in Orakzai
- By Abdul Sami Paracha, Thursday, 30 Apr, 2009
KOHAT: The Taliban on Wednesday night demolished 11 houses of the Sikh community in the Orakzai Agency for refusing to pay ‘Jizia’.
The action was ordered by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief for Orakzai Agency, Hakeemullah Mehsud, after the deadline given to the Sikh community for payment of Jazia passed on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Sikh community had postponed its decision about vacating the area following the demand of the Tehrik-i-Taliban for payment of ‘Jazia’ being non-Muslims for their protection.
They gathered in the Merozai area to finalise their decision for leaving the area, but a dispute erupted over the issue among them and the meeting was postponed till Thursday.
The Taliban had asked the Sikh community living in the tribal area for centuries earlier this month to pay annual Jazia because ‘Sharia had been enforced in the area and every non-Muslim had to pay protection money’.
The Sikh community comprising 30 to 35 families shifted from the Feroze Khel area to the nearby Merozai in Lower Orakzai Agency because they could not arrange Rs150 million demanded by the Taliban.
The Taliban had forcibly occupied shops of two Sikh businessmen, Sewa Singh and Kalak Singh, and houses of several Sikhs to force them to pay Jazia. Later, the Sikh community refused to pay Jazia and decided to leave Orakzai and settle in some other area.
Most of tribal families belonging to a particular sect have also migrated to different parts of Hangu and Kohat due to the fear of Taliban.
- source Dawn News
Buner Sikhs safe at Punja Sahib, claim Taleban are guarding their homes and businesses
More than 300 hundred Sikhs have traveled from their homes in Buner seeking shelter at Punja Sahib. They say stories of Sikhs being harrassed are untrue and that the taliban have promised to guard their homes and businesses. They report they were leaving only because of the escalating violence.
- source Dawn News, Sunday, May 3, 20009