Targeting Sikhs: Would-be groom’s death turns celebration to mourning

Young Jagmohan got engaged a month before he was shot dead.

Riaz Ahmad August 08, 2014


Jagmohan didn’t want to be a sweaty groom. He was waiting for the sweltering heat to break so his wedding functions could be held in more pleasant weather. The 19-year-old had only just gotten engaged and recently started a new business venture when he was shot dead on Wednesday.

An unidentified man gunned Jagmohan Singh down in Shahbab Market in Khushal Bazaar before he turned around and shot at Parimjit Singh. The attacker then shot at a third man, Manmit Singh. Jagmohan died of his injuries but the other two survived.

Jagmohan was attacked at his cosmetics store, which was his latest investment decision after he chose to close down his electronics shop in Pipal Mandi in the face of stiff competition, his elder brother Rawel Singh told The Express Tribune. “He decided to give up on the electronics business and give this shop in Hashtnagri a go.”

“In the morning, Jagmohan left for his shop and our father Kashan Singh and I left for our fabric shop in Karkhano Market,” he added. Rawel and Jagmohan’s younger brothers Jagander and Manjit are currently studying.

“He was the second among four brothers. We were all so happy about his engagement and his new shop,” said the grieving brother. Khushal Bazaar is considered a good spot for clothes, and cosmetic shopping, he added. “But we really had no idea our happiness would be so short lived.” Rawel explained Jagmohan was not the only Sikh shop owner in Shabab Market; at least 50 shops are owned by Sikhs in the same locale.

Us and them

“The older generation focused more on general stores and selling alternative medicine, but these days the younger lot seldom goes for such businesses,” said Kashan Singh, Jagmohan’s father. “It’s just not glamorous enough for them.”

Now, he said, they want to sell mobiles because it’s considered very profitable—requires very little capital.

Talking about his son’s murder, Kashan refused to accept that three Sikh shop owners getting shot at one location by one armed man was a mere coincidence. “He escaped without inviting any attention in broad daylight.”

With so many Sikh families living in Peshawar, everyone is increasingly feeling insecure.

“Previously they used to kidnap members of our community and our houses would be robbed without any fear of consequences, but now they are after the lives of our children,” said Kashan. Two Sikhs were targeted in Charsadda earlier this year, he added.

“We need protection. We want peace for our families, for ourselves and nothing more. We don’t need their compensation money.”

Investigation update

An investigation team has been formed to look into the attack but has not yielded any concrete results as yet. “A team of investigators is meeting eye witnesses in the area,” said City SP Mustafa Tanveer. “It has been confirmed there was only one attacker who had come to the market on foot and fled after the crime.”

Tanveer told The Express Tribune the most important eye witnesses were the two injured Sikh traders who were still in a state of shock. He said the police was waiting for them to be discharged from the hospital.

“It could be a targeted attack or just a simple attempt to create panic and fear in the city but it would be useless to jump to conclusions without proof, which we lack at the moment,” said the SP. The case is being investigated from all angles, Tanveer added.

Justice unserved

Sikh representative Charanjit Singh told The Express Tribune if the culprits behind this attack are not arrested, “We will go on a long march in protest and force the government to give us proper protection.”

“The culprits behind the murders of Parimjeet Singh in Shabqadar and Baghwan Singh in Tangi, both in Charsadda district, were never arrested,” Charanjit added. “This is the third incident in K-P this year.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2014.