Two Sikh traders were shot dead by unknown individuals in Peshawar on Sunday, with terrorist organisation Daesh-Khorasan later claiming responsibility for the incident.
According to reports, the two Sikh traders had recently moved to Peshawar due to the uncertain law and order situation in their hometown of Bara.
The victims were identified as 42-year-old Kaljit Singh and 38-year-old Ranjit Singh, and they resided in the Dabgari Gardens area of Peshawar. Both men owned shops in Batakhel market where they sold spices.
A local Sikh trader, Santosh Singh told Friday Times that every day the Sikh community feels more and more unsafe, because people from the community keep getting killed and there is no one to hold accountable.
He further said that according to eyewitnesses, the target killer, after murdering the two victims, asked the nearby people if any other Sikhs were present there. He revealed that other Sikh shop-owners were present in the market, but they had all gone into hiding in various shops.
The Sikh community held a protest in Peshawar yesterday (Monday) and held a press conference today, demanding that the killers of the Sikh traders be arrested at once, and that the security be provided to the minority community.
Santosh said that neither of the slain traders had any sort of animosity with anyone, and that this was an act of terrorism. He said that the Sikh community must be provided protection, and if they aren’t given security, the community will announce their next course of action.
According to statistics from the Sikh Welfare Organisation, there are around 1200 Sikh households in Khyber Pakhtunwa, and in the past couple of years, 22 have been targeted in such hate crimes.
According to reports, the murdered Sikhs were not associated with any such welfare organisations or local Sikh institutions, and were only involved in business and trade.
In the past, the Sikh community has been targeted from time to time and due to the uncertain law and order situation, has led some Sikhs to migrate from the tribal districts to Peshawar, and some have left the country.
Peshawar-based journalist Lahaz Ali, who specializes in analysing terrorism and extremism says that this attack, as well as past attacks such as the one on the Kucha Risaldar Mosque in March have made it apparent that the organisation has roots in Peshawar and other parts of the country. He also said that police officials and other state organisations admit and acknowledge that Daesh is still present in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and especially in Peshawar.
Responding to a question, he said that while there were negotiations and ceasefires ongoing between the military and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Daesh have been emerging as a new but powerful terror group in Peshawar.
He asked who will negotiate with the Daesh, as the organisation seemingly does not have any leader or an obvious management structure within which contact can be made. Lahaz went on to say that terror attacks would continue as the Daesh had established a network in Pakistan.
A Sikh trader who resided in Peshawar, on the condition of anonymity, told Friday Times that since the day the two Sikh traders were murdered, he has been feeling anxious. He said his kids have been questioning why Sikhs are being killed, but he has no answer.
“They ask where should we go? Our lives and futures are in danger in both Pakistan and in India, so where can we go?” he said adding that he hasn’t gone to his shop since the incident took place. “I’m even scared of my shadow now .”