Sikh MPA decries exclusion of his community from census in Punjab Assembly

Ramesh Singh Arora

The first and only Sikh lawmaker in the Punjab Assembly since the partition, Ramesh Singh Arora expressed feeling marginalised while speaking on a point of order in the house on Monday.

Arora, who became an MPA in 2013 on a seat reserved for non-Muslims, said that the Sikh community was being completely ignored in Pakistan’s first headcount in 19 years.

The actual count of the Sikh community living in Pakistan would not be possible because their religion was not included in the forms of the country’s 6th and ongoing census, he said.

The census forms issued by the government only list options of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Qadianiat, scheduled caste, and others, as religions that one can opt for in the census.

“Our religion was founded some 500 years ago in what is now a part of Pakistan. It is really unfortunate that our community was completely ignored in the headcount that is being carried out,” Arora said.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Arora said that an estimated 25,000 Sikhs are currently living in Pakistan but it was important to find out the community’s actual headcount. He added that this oversight on the part of the Pakistani government will strengthen claims of the Indian government which believes that Sikhism is a part of Hinduism.

“I have received several phone calls from the Sikhs living abroad asking why Sikhs were being ignored by a country that was very sacred for us. Our Guru Nanak was born here,” Arora said.

The MPA, who sits on the treasury benches of the Punjab Assembly, said that the bureaucracy was responsible for the blunder and that both the provincial and federal governments must act to address this grave issue.

No one from the ruling party tried to address the grievance expressed by their colleague and fellow party member.

A wave of anger spread in the country’s Sikh community after the launch of the 6th census and many of them have also staged protests in different parts of the country. Sikhs hailing from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have also threatened to stage a protest in the federal capital for their rights.

Hassaan Ahmed

The writer is a staff member at Pakistan Today and tweets @hassaan_reports He can be reached at [email protected]



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