Baldev Singh Raina, the Chairman of All Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee-Kashmir, lauded the Centre's J&K policy and listed his demands, including special status for the Sikh community and their rehabilitation to the Union Territory. In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, he also recounted the attack by Pakistan-backed tribal invaders on India on October 22, 1947, and noted that the Sikhs played a pivotal role in the battle.
Question: The J&K government is observing a Black Day in Kashmir on October 22, the day when the Pakistan-backed tribal invaders crossed into Kashmir...
Baldev Singh: We are thankful to the government of India and the Union Territory government for understanding the significance of this. Pakistan has been engaged in terrorism in India for so many years and now, they stand exposed before the whole world. They are struggling to come out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list and if they don’t mend they will be on black list of the FATF soon.
Question: Is the Black day about the attack by Pakistan on India on October 22, 1947?
Baldev Singh: Yes, these tribals came to India on the instructions of ISI and killed innocent people. Our mothers and sisters committed suicide to save themselves and we have had to open many posts across India to protect ourselves from these attacks.
Question: Sikhs are believed to have played a pivotal role. Could you shed some light on that aspect?
Baldev Singh: Yes, we fought against the tribals at open posts in Rafiabad, Baramulla, Badgaum, Atna and Srinagar and we fought for seven days before the army could reach there. The Sikhs lost 47,000 lives.
Question: What are your expectations from the government?
Baldev Singh: The government is doing an excellent job and we want Sikhs to be declared a minority community with special status. We want the government to declare the Mattan Singh Sahib Gurudwara, where Baba Guru Nanak Dev stayed for 13 days, a National Heritage. We also want our Sikhs brothers to be rehabilitated in Kashmir and provided jobs. Kashmir is only because of Sikhs and the government can help the Sikhs by fulfilling these two demands.
Question: What does the future of Kashmir look like?
Baldev Singh: Kashmir is the crown of India and it will remain to be so. We all Kashmiris have fought well and with the developments, we are optimistic that things will improve soon. Kashmir is an international tourist destination and it will always continue to be one. I am also the chairman of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and I urge all investors to have confidence in Kashmir.