TTP claims responsibility for Singh’s murder

Published April 24, 2016
People attend the funeral of slain lawmaker Sardar Soran Singh in Pir Baba village of Buner district on Saturday.—AP
People attend the funeral of slain lawmaker Sardar Soran Singh in Pir Baba village of Buner district on Saturday.—AP

PESHAWAR: As the last rites of Sardar Soran Singh, a member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, were performed in Buner district on Saturday, the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killing.

TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurrasani issued a statement, saying that Mr Singh was a high-level government functionary.

Mr Singh, an MPA of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and special assistant to the chief minister for minorities, was gunned down near his home on Friday evening.

Buner district police chief Khalid Hamdani told Dawn that some suspects had been detained during search operations and significant progress had been made in the investigation.

The final rites were performed at a crematorium in the Pir Baba area where Mr Singh was killed.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, ministers and people from all walks of life attended the last rites of Mr Singh in his ancestral village.

Mr Khattak visited the residence of Mr Singh where he offered his condolences to the bereaved family and elders of the Sikh community.

Talking to reporters, he said Mr Singh’s killing was a great loss to his government, the PTI and the minority community of the province.

He said Mr Singh was a patriotic Pakistani and Pakhtun.

Replying to a question, the chief minister said police had credible clues that could help arrest the killers.

There are pockets of Sikh population in Buner, Swat and Peshawar districts in KP and Khyber and Orakzai agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

In Khyber, there were pockets of Sikh population in Bara and Tirah localities, but most of them have relocated to Peshawar and other areas after incidents of kidnapping for ransom.

Most of the Sikhs living in KP and Fata are bilingual and consider themselves Pakhtun.

Our Staff Reporter in Karachi adds: Human rights and religious minorities’ organisations condemned the killing, calling it a wakeup call for the governments at the Centre and in KP, which, they suspected, had been showing “passive acceptance” to the brutal trend.

Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said a growing anti-minorities trend had been witnessed in KP and the tribal belt in recent months, which needed to be addressed before it was too late.

“It’s quite unfortunate that despite condemning and criticising such incidents, we have hardly seen any effective measure from the governments to counter such a brutal trend,” she said.

“The governments always come up with moves which suggest that they have given the trend a kind of passive acceptance as after mere condemnation they move ahead and wait for another incident to happen.”

The Sikh community believes that the incident has caused considerable alarm among the other minorities which for the past more than a year has been feeling much safer after the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb military operation against the militants.

“Soran Singh, in fact, laid his life for the country,” said Ramesh Singh of the Pakistan Sikh Council. “He was popular and respected among the Muslims of Buner in equal measure for his selfless services to the area’s people and different communities. His killing has not only shocked the Sikhs of Pakistan but also other minorities.”

He said thousands of Sikhs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who had been living there for centuries, regarded Mr Singh more because of his recent efforts and bold moves which had highlighted the minorities’ plight and led to several measures from the government for their rehabilitation and development.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2016

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