PESHAWAR/ MINGORA: Former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Baldev Kumar is seeking political asylum in India and has accused the Imran Khan-led government of mistreating minorities in Pakistan.
Mr Kumar, who belongs to the Sikh community of Barikot in Swat Valley, has the distinction of remaining a provincial lawmaker for only a single day. He was arrested in the murder case of Soran Singh, the then special adviser to the chief minister, on April 22, 2016.
He was finally acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Buner in April 2018. He took his oath in May the same year. However, the assembly was dissolved a day later for holding the general elections.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government as well as the legal heirs of the late Soran Singh had filed separate appeals against the ATC judgement, which have been pending before the Peshawar High Court, Swat bench — commonly known as Darul Qaza. A bench at Darul Qaza is scheduled to hear the appeals on Sept 30.
Mr Kumar’s brother Talak and other members of non-Muslim communities in Swat have rejected the allegations made by him in the Indian media that religious minorities were mistreated in Pakistan.
The Indian media, both print and electronic, have reported that Baldev Kumar had come to India on a visa along with his two children and spouse for treatment of their 12-year-old daughter suffering from thalassaemia.
Mr Kumar, whose wife belongs to India, has reportedly applied for political asylum citing discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan as the prime reason.
Talak Kumar, who had also remained tehsil councilor, denied the allegations levelled by his brother against Pakistan. “This is not only strange but illogical because we are born here and live happily as our people are doing businesses and working on key positions in government departments,” he told Dawn.
He said that all minority communities, including Sikhs, were enjoying safety in the country. He added that the Sikh community had been living in Swat, Buner and Shangla for centuries with complete religious freedom as they never faced any problem.
He said that Swat was his motherland and he was a patriotic Pakistani and that in the time of war the Sikh community would be the first to fight for Pakistan.
Amar Jeet Malhotra, a former senator belonging to the Awami National Party, expressed surprise over the stance of Baldev Kumar and said that all his assertions were baseless as more than 450 families lived in Malakand division in a safe and sound environment.
“He did the entire drama to get Indian nationality because his wife belongs to Khanna in Indian Punjab and she does not want to come back. We never felt any threat here and even during the militancy period from 2007 to 2009 we were safe here and lived without any threat,” he told Dawn.
He said that majority of people belonging to the Sikh community in Swat were connected with different lucrative businesses, particularly in the cloth industry.
An additional advocate general, Muhammad Rahim Shah, informed Dawn that they had filed an appeal against acquittal of Baldev Kumar in May 2018. He said that their case was strong and the trial court had not appreciated the evidence available against the accused persons.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019