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Demand for inclusion of Sikhism in census form

Updated Mar 20, 2017 09:01am


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KARACHI: After protests by transgender community and persons with disabilities, now Pakistan Sikh Council has also come forward with an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan asking it to include Sikhism as a religion in the census form of 2017.

Speaking to Dawn on Sunday, the council’s patron in-chief, Sardar Ramesh Singh, said that earlier Sikhism was made part of the Hindu Marriage Bill passed in Feb 2016.

Many people from within the community said at the time that Hindu and Sikh rituals were totally different and asked for a separate Sikh Marriage Bill. Now, the religion had been ignored in column 6 of the census form, he lamented.

Mr Singh said at present there was no estimate regarding the number of Sikhs in the country but only rough and usually inaccurate estimates were made about their exact number.

The Sikh population in Karachi lives in areas such as Narayanpura, Ranchhore Line, Gulshan-i-Maymar, Lighthouse, Cantt, Clifton, Defence and Manora.

At the same time, Mr Singh said: “The community’s non-representation in both national and provincial assemblies is also the reason they generally get ignored. As a result, we also get short-changed when it comes to the disbursement of the minority development fund to our community.”

All of it, he said, boiled down to being represented in the census.

“By getting our religion box in the census form, we will at least know the exact number of Sikhs across Pakistan and get recognition for our services. It is my appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the president and the prime minister to take notice of this as soon as possible,” said Mr Singh.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a good speech at the recently concluded festival of Holi which, he said, “means he is aware of the minority community’s sentiments”.

Social media erupted with angry posts by members of the Sikh community living in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as soon as the news of their non-representation in the census form came to the fore.

Mr Singh and other representatives of the core group of the PSC are under pressure to bring the omission to the notice of the higher authorities.

The council is now planning to hold a protest demonstration in Karachi in the coming days.

“The Sikhs consider Pakistan as the land from where their religion originated. Every year Sikh pilgrims make annual pilgrimage to gurdwaras across Pakistan as a sign of respect and devotion. It’d be a total disrespect to the community if their religion is not mentioned and they remain unrecognised in a land which means the most to them,” Mr Singh added.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017


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Comments (5) Closed

MUHAMMAD FAHEEM KHAN Mar 20, 2017 09:11am

Agreed this demand should be approved immediately, both liberals and conservatives back these legit demand.

TAriq Mar 20, 2017 09:16am

There should be every sect, religion and cast should be counted in present census so that one should have a better understanding of country demography.

M. Emad Mar 20, 2017 09:22am

A genuine demand by Pakistan Sikh Council, Transgender Community and Disable Persons.

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Mar 20, 2017 02:31pm

Genuine demand of my Sikh Family in Pakistan. Love to the Sikh Family. Wahe Guru keep your blessing on us forever. Amen. :)

MUHAMMAD Mar 20, 2017 05:02pm

A very genuine demand of the sikh community. I rememebr when I went to the State Bank's library on II Chundrigar road and saw the census reports of 1951 and 61, they were extrememly detailed with all languages and religions being mentioned e.g. there were figrures for not just sindhi punjabi blochi pashto bengali and urdu but also for Brahui, Kohistani, Chitrali, Tamil, Hindi, Marwari, Dari, Arabic, English, Oriya, Marathi, Assamese, telugu, malayalam gujarati etc. I even got those figures photo copied and still have them with me. I dont understand why our govt does not uses those forms for religion and languages to get the most accurate data? and seriously what is the logic behind reducing the languages and religions? is it because they want to do less work or a political stunt?