NEW DELHI: In what threatens to cast a shadow on the upcoming Indo-Pakistan talks scheduled for February 25, three Sikh youths were beheaded by the Taliban in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) region after they allegedly refused to convert to Islam. Their severed heads were dumped at a gurudwara in Peshawar.
The Sikh youths -- identified as Jaspal Singh, Sarabjit Singh and Baronat Singh -- had gone to realise the money owed to them by some people in the FATA region adjoining Afghanistan, when they were abducted by the Taliban militia. They were allegedly told by the Taliban to embrace Islam or face death. When the Sikh youth refused, their heads were chopped and sent to the Bhai Joga Singh Gurudwara in Peshawar.
(A Gurdwara is a place of worship for Sikhs and it means "the doorway to the guru." The followers of Sikhism also use it as a place where weary pilgrims may rest and eat. Dumping the severed heads at a Gurdwara is an extremely violent and callous act by the Taliban.)
A sizeable number of Sikhs lived in the tribal belt, particularly Aurakzai Agency, till the Taliban imposed jiziya or religious tax on them in 2009. Most members of the community, faced with increasing pressure from the Taliban to convert to Islam, have since fled to cities across Pakistan.