Islamabad: Unknown gunmen shot dead a Unani physician belonging to the Sikh community in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, triggering panic among the minority community in the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Sikhs have demanded that the Pakistan government ensure their security and rein in the elements targeting them. According to the police, the attackers escaped after firing four shots at Hakeem Satnam Singh who was inside his clinic, Dharmandar Dawakhana, on Charsadda road in Peshawar. Singh was rushed to a nearby hospital in a critical condition where he succumbed to his injuries. Police said a case has been registered against unknown assailants and investigation is underway.
A Sikh social activist, Radesh Singh Tony, said that Satnam’s family members were from the Tira tribal community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Orakzai Agency. Just 520 Sikh families live in Peshawar. Majority of them had migrated to the city from the tribal regions of Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber to escape terrorism. It started in the mid-1980s which increased tremendously with the emergence of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2007. The demand for jizya (protection money from minorities) and several socio-religious curbs by the TTP had forced the Sikhs to leave.
There have been over a dozen killings of Sikhs in the last few years. Among the victims was Swaran Singh, adviser to KPK chief Parvez Khan Khattak, who was shot dead on April 22, 2016.
IS-K claims responsibility
The IS’ Afghanistan affiliate, dubbed Islamic State Khorasan or IS-K, has claimed responsibility for the killing Satnam Singh. In a message posted on social media, the IS-K claimed the killing. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mahmood Khan condemned the crime and directed police to take steps to arrest the killers. The IS-K, which has stepped up attacks in several Afghan cities since the Taliban seized power in Kabul on August 15, had also claimed the deadly suicide attack at Kabul airport on August 26.