In another targeted attack against minority communities in Pakistan, a Sikh businessman was shot dead on March 31 by unknown assailants in Peshawar.
The incident took place at 3 pm when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at Dayal Singh, a businessman in Peshawar’s Dir Colony area, police said.
The gunmen fled the scene after committing the crime, they said. Police have collected 30 bore bullet shells from the site of the crime. CCTV footage from the shop has been obtained, and the police have launched an investigation into the attack.
About 15,000 Sikhs live in Peshawar, mostly in the Jogan Shah neighbourhood of the provincial capital Peshawar. Most of the members of the Sikh community in Peshawar are involved in business, while some also have pharmacies.
The brutal killing comes a day after a Hindu doctor was shot dead by unknown assailants in Karachi.
On March 30, 2023, Dunya News (Pakistani Media) reported that Dr Birbal Genani, an eye specialist and senior director of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, was shot by unknown assailants in Layari, Karachi.
As per Geo News (Pakistani Media Agency), after receiving information regarding the incident, the police and rescue officials arrived at the site and took the injured victim and the doctor to the hospital. The CCTV footage of the incident shows Dr Genani’s car moving uncontrollably and smashing into a wall.
According to the police, Birbal and his assistant lady doctor were travelling to Gulshan-e-Iqbal from Ramaswamy when an unidentified man targeted their car near Garden Interchange on Layari Expressway. Dr Birbal died at the spot while the lady assistant sustained bullet injuries.
Speaking to a group of reporters, the Senior Superintendent of the Karachi Police, Arif Aziz, said that the murder of Genani was a ‘target killing.’ He further added that the exact reason behind the murder is not known yet.
Notably, last year in May, Two Sikh shopkeepers were shot dead by unidentified assailants in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The incident took place in the Bata Tal bazaar of Sarband in Peshawar city. Two assailants were riding a motorcycle when they opened fire on the victims, identified as Saljeet Singh and Ranjeet Singh.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is well known for the persecution of religious minorities, especially Hindus and Sikhs. Many of them have stated that they are being treated as second-class citizens in Pakistan.
Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan have also been targets of sexual harassment, and their religious practices and festivals have been abused and mocked several times.
They are being taught the Islamic curriculum by force, and they say that it is compulsory for them. The Hindu places of worship have been destroyed. Several Muslims set fire to temples and vandalised the idols of Hindu deities on the temple premises.
It is to be noted that Islamic extremists in Pakistan have made it difficult for minorities to live a normal life. In 2017, Sikhs were excluded from the census in Pakistan. This was the first time the minority group was not included in the census.
On January 16, 2023, United Nations (UN) experts expressed grave concern about the alarming rise in coerced marriages, kidnappings and forced conversions of minor girls belonging to religious minority communities in Pakistan.
The UN experts had called for immediate action to ensure justice for the minor victims. They emphasised, “We urge the Government to take immediate steps to prevent and thoroughly investigate these acts objectively and in line with domestic legislation and international human rights commitments.”
“Perpetrators must be held fully accountable…We are deeply troubled to hear that girl as young as 13 are being kidnapped from their families, trafficked to locations far from their homes, made to marry men sometimes twice their age, and coerced to convert to Islam, all in violation of international human rights law,” UN experts added.
Human rights groups say that forced conversion and marriage of young women from the minority community is a growing problem in Pakistan.
According to a report, over 1000 underage girls belonging to the minority Hindu, Christian and Sikh communities are kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam every year, subjected to rape and forcibly married to old men in Pakistan.
Forced conversion and kidnapping of Hindu and Sikh girls and their forced marriage to old Muslim men are mainly in the Sindh province, which hosts about 90 per cent of the minority community (Hindu and Sikh).
Notably, Systemic persecution of minorities, including Christians, Ahmadiya, Sikhs, and Hindus, through Draconian blasphemy laws, forced conversions and marriages, and extrajudicial killings have become a regular phenomenon in Pakistan. Attacks on Holy and ancient sites of religious minorities in Pakistan is also a major issue.