Amid a recent controversy, there is growing call in Jammu and Kashmir for an anti-conversion law, akin to those in place in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Sikhs are estimated to form 2% of the J&K population.
A war of words raged on Twitter, too, over women of one community dating and marrying men of another.
The alleged disappearance of two Kashmiri Sikh women recently led to massive outrage in the region over accusations of abduction and forced conversion and marriage to older men. This, however, ebbed a bit on Tuesday, media reports said, when one of the women, an 18-year-old, returned.
She then reportedly married Sukhbir Singh, a Srinagar-based man from her faith. The wedding was arranged by her parents and community leaders.
Citing safety concerns, the ‘rescued’ woman and her husband were brought to Delhi by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), said a PTI report. “We brought them to Delhi as they were not safe in J&K. The DSGMC has given them jobs,” said an official from the committee.
A search is on for the other ‘missing’ woman.
Call for legislation
Meanwhile, the Akal Takht and leaders of the Sikh community have urged the J&K Administration to enact an anti-conversion law to ‘prevent’ events commonly referred to as ‘love jihad’.
According to reports, the Akal Takht’s officiating jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, has written to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, saying Sikh women in the valley are being kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. He said steps should be taken to stop this, adding that in recent weeks alone four such incidents have taken place.
“The Sikh faith does not allow conversion to any other religion,” Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee head Bibi Jagir Kaur was quoted as saying.
Amid the controversy elsewhere, local Sikh leaders in Srinagar sought to tone down the allegations. They called for communal harmony, and did not seem keen on an anti-conversion law, said media reports.
The chairman of the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina, was quoted as saying ‘outsiders’ were trying to instigate trouble. “There were many wrong statements like claims of abduction at gun point and other things. Many outsiders have exploited the situation rather for their vested interest,” he was quoted as saying by agency reports.