Sikhs forcibly being made Muslims in Pak, India furious

Chandigarh, Dec 19: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up with Pakistani authorities the issue of alleged forced conversion of Sikhs in a province in Pakistan to Islam. Expressing concern over reports that the Sikh community in Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province had complained of such conversion, the Chief Minister said the Indian government was duty-bound to ensure that Sikhs in any part of the world are not victimized or coerced in any manner. Pointing out that the community, which had been living in the area for more than a century, was reported to have filed an official complaint to the district deputy commissioner, Amarinder Singh said it was a serious issue, especially considering that the forced conversions were allegedly being spearheaded by a Pakistani government official. "It is the responsibility of the Indian authorities to intervene in the matter and ensure that the said coercion is brought to an end. We are duty-bound to protect the identity of Sikhs, wherever they may be living," he said in a statement here. Amarinder Singh said that the Ministry of External Affairs should pursue the matter at the highest levels in Islamabad so that this "religious torture" is brought to an immediate end. "Religious freedom is the right of every human being and should be upheld by all countries in the larger interest of humanity," he said, adding Sushma Swaraj's intervention in the matter would help protect this basic right of the substantial Sikh community settled in Pakistan. IANS