Pakistani Sikh politician Radesh Singh Tony, who was reportedly the first candidate from the country's Sikh community to contest an election for a general seat in 2018, has fled the country along with his wife and three sons because of continued threats against his life. Earlier, the Sikh leader had deactivated his Twitter account after he was assaulted by "unidentified" armed men a few weeks ago. Following the attack, he shifted from Peshawar to Lahore. Now as per reports, Tony along with his family has fled from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to threats and is likely to assume asylum in India.
On Wednesday, Tony, who is also a minority rights activist, released a video statement from an unverified Twitter account making an appeal to the Sikh community to help him and his family and take them out to some safe place.
I appeal to my Sikh Community those who are abroad, Please help me & my Family & take me out to some safe place at this world. @WorldSikhOrg@amnesty @hrw @HRC @realDonaldTrump @Malala @ZarAliAfridi @TahaSSiddiqui @BaseerNaveed @GlobalSikh pic.twitter.com/Jc1l0uzGkB— RadeshSinghTony (@aoepoeRadesh) January 22, 2020
The tweet was re-tweeted by Zar Ali Khan Afridi, a 'Human Rights Defender working in FATA' in Pakistan. "Radesh Tony a known Human Rights Defender from Peshawar needs to be safe. He is at the highest risk. He and his family must be protected. Pakistani state operatives are killing him," tweeted Afridi.
Tony had been the target of Islamist extremists as well as the critic by Pakistan's ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He had not only received threats against his life but also undergone a brutal assault by a group of young men. It was reported that Tony had been doing well in politics and had been turning into a popular leader within the minority community.
Speaking about the atrocities faced by Tony, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Manjinder S Sirsa said, "Radesh Singh Tony, who had contested the 2018 general elections in Pakistan from Peshawar as an independent candidate, was allegedly tortured by some unidentified people last month. He is receiving threats & is forced to leave the country."
Tony had often been critical of the ruling government and complained about the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan. He was the only minority politician from Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to have contested election as an independent candidate last year. The Sikh community has been facing multiple atrocities against them by Pakistan with the recent one being the brutal attack by a mob of 400 on their holy shrine, Gurudwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak.
India had strongly condemned the incident of vandalism at the revered Gurdwara and called upon the Pakistan government to take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of the Sikh community there. The main accused in the incident of vandalism at Nankana Sahib has been arrested and charged with a non-bailable section of the stringent anti-terrorism act