Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Battagram Hindus told to embrace Islam or pay tax
Monday, 29 Jun, 2009
The Taliban threatened that ‘if you or any other member of your community were kidnapped then we will not release the kidnapped person even after payment of Rs10 million as ransom’. — File Photo
MANSEHRA: Chief of the Hindu community in Battagram said on Sunday that the Taliban had threatened them to pay Jazia (tax) or accept Islam.
‘It depends on you to choose between Jazia and Islam otherwise you would face abduction and suicide attacks,’ Dr Oam Parkash quoted the Taliban as saying.
While talking to Dawn after receiving the threats on telephone, he said that so far he had received two calls during the last two days: first by a Taliban commander and then by a militant. ‘They demanded Rs6 million from me,’ the Hindu leader added.
The Taliban threatened that ‘if you or any other member of your community were kidnapped then we will not release the kidnapped person even after payment of Rs10 million as ransom’.
Dr Parkash said that he had made clear to both callers that the Hindus in the region were not in a position to pay such a huge amount. The Hindus had been living in Battagram for centuries. ‘My father and grandfather served the people of Battagram as hakeems and now I am also serving the people,’ he said.
In response to a question, Dr Parkash said that 15 Hindu families were living in Battagram but none of them had enmity with anyone in the district.
‘The government should take precautionary measures to protect the Hindu community as the Taliban have threatened even to target our place of worship in Battagram,’ he said.
He said that a delegation of the Hindu community had apprised the district police officer (DPO) Battagram who has beefed up security. The leader of the Hindu minority community thanked the local ulema (Muslim religious leaders) and common people of Battagram who had extended their full support to the Hindus.
Dr Parkash, a renowned homeopathic doctor, said that Pakistan was their motherland and they were as patriotic as anyone could be, saying that the Hindu community always respected the sentiments of their Muslim brothers and sisters.
Following the threat, security agencies have launched an inquiry to confirm the callers’ identity, sources said.
However, DPO Sohail Khalid told this correspondent that such calls and threatening letters, apparently by the Taliban, were also received by some NGOs and other people.