New Delhi/Srinagar : On February 14, 2019 when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked near Awantipora on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel Kashmiris across the country had tough time. As news of the attack spread, mobs fanned out in various Indian cities, closing in on Kashmiris living there.
Members of the Sikh community came out in their support and opened the gates of their religious places to give them shelter.
Reports here said ‘langars’ (free community Kitchens) were set up by the Sikhs in Punjab and some other places for Kashmiri students and other locals doing business outside Jammu and Kashmir.
Media reports said Sikhs also came out in overwhelming support of Kashmiri students studying in Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Patna, West Bengal and other states.
Khalsa Aid, an international organisation based in the United Kingdom, is known for its humanitarian work during natural disasters, wars and other calamities. Gurpreet Singh, head of group in India, said they decided to offer help to distressed Kashmiris after coming across “disturbing” videos of harassment and calls for help from Kashmiris.
“We were able to evacuate more than 300 Kashmiri students safely to Chandigarh and then to Jammu. We could have sent them to Kashmir directly but there were some problems with coordination. Most of the distressed students we helped were studying in Dehradun and Haryana,” said Singh.
They were helped by other local Sikh organisations and gurudwara committees. “Local gurudwaras were thrown open for Kashmiri students and we were able to give them shelter and food,” said Singh, who led a group 30 volunteers for the task.
Reciprocating the support offered to Kashmiri students and others by Sikhs in Jammu and elsewhere in India after the suicide bombing in Kashmir, Kashmiri Muslims have announced a number of goodwill gestures for the Sikh community in the Kashmir Valley.
“A Sikh brother from Tral owes me Rs 48,000. In view of his weak financial capacity, I have written it off,” said a Kashmiri Muslim on the social media on Thursday.
Free coaching for Sikh students has been announced by a number of coaching centres in the Valley.
Many doctors, especially in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, have announced free consultation for Sikh patients while some hospitals announced free admission to patients from the community.
Some shopkeepers have announced special discounts for Sikh shoppers. Even vehicle repair workshops at some places said that free service would be provided to Sikh vehicle owners.
“The goodwill announced for the Sikh community is in response to the overwhelming support offered by members of this community to our children studying outside the Valley,” said Nazir Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Srinagar city. With IANS inputs