Two Sikh businessmen were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday in the latest targeted terror attack on the minority community in Afghanistan’s restive border province.
Saljeet Singh, 42, and Ranjeet Singh, 38, died at the scene after being attacked by two assailants on bicycles in the morning, police said.
The assailants fled after carrying out the attack.
The two Sikhs were in the spice trade and had shops in the Bata Tal bazaar in Sarband, about 17 km from Peshawar.
The Islamic State Wilayah Khorasan (ISKP), the Afghan branch of the Islamic States, has claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of two Sikh businessmen in Pakistan on Sunday May 15. Sikh men were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The counter-terrorism department has registered a case of the murder of the two Sikh men, Saddar Police Superintendent Aqiq Hussain told Geo News.
“The incident appears to be a terrorist attack. CCTV footage will be acquired and the suspects will be arrested soon,” he said.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident and ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to ensure the immediate arrest and punishment of the culprits.
He also urged the Chief Minister to take measures for the protection of life and property of citizens, especially non-Muslims.
Sharif expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families of the deceased.
He observed that enmity with Pakistan was the reason for this act of terrorism and decided to eliminate the enemies of the country, according to the report.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah criticized the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for the attack and demanded a report from the province’s chief secretary and inspector general of police.
“The KP government has failed terribly to protect minorities,” Sanaullah said, pointing to past incidents of violence against Sikhs in the province.
He urged law enforcement and the Pakistani-led Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial government of Imran Khan to provide security for minorities.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the attack and ordered the police to take immediate action to arrest the culprits.
He said the incident was a plot to disrupt interfaith harmony in the province.
The Chief Minister said justice will be served for the families of the deceased.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called for the immediate arrest of those involved.
“No one will be allowed to disrupt interfaith harmony in the country and harm national unity,” he said in a statement, adding that the Pakistan People’s Party was the true representative party of the country and n would not abandon the Sikh community.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the murder.
“This is not the first time that the KP Sikh community has been targeted and we demand that the KP police quickly identify and arrest the perpetrators,” he said.
He also called on the government to “speak clearly that violence against religious minorities will not be tolerated”.
The All Pakistan Ulema Council (APUC) also condemned the killing.
APUC leader Tahir Ashrafi said the Peshawar administration should ensure the protection of non-Muslim citizens and arrest the murderers of Ranjeet and Kanwaljeet.
About 15,000 Sikhs live in Peshawar, mostly in the Jogan Shah district of the provincial capital Peshawar.
Most members of the Sikh community in Peshawar are involved in business, while some also have pharmacies.
In September last year, a well-known Sikh hakeem (unani medical practitioner) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen inside his clinic in Peshawar.
In 2018, Charanjit Singh, a prominent member of the Sikh community, was killed by unidentified people in Peshawar.
Similarly, news channel presenter Ravinder Singh was killed in 2020 in the city.
In 2016, Soren Singh, a member of the Pakistani National Assembly Tehreek-e-Insaaf, was also killed in Peshawar.
According to the 2017 census, Hindus are the largest religious minority in Pakistan. Christians are the second largest religious minority.
(With PTI inputs)