Islamabad: Members of Pakistan's minority Sikh community living in the restive Aurakzai tribal region have paid Rs 2 crore as 'tax' to the Taliban after militants forcibly occupied some of their homes and kidnapped a Sikh leader.
The Taliban had demanded Rs 5 crore as jizia, a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule, but the militants finally settled for Rs 2 crore.
After the amount was paid on Thursday, the militants vacated the homes they had taken over and released Sikh leader Saiwang Singh, officials in the tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar were quoted as saying by the Daily Times newspaper.
The officials said the Taliban had announced that the Sikhs were now free to live anywhere in Aurzakzai Agency. The militants also announced they would protect the community, saying that no one would harm them after they had paid jizia.
Sikhs who had left the area would now return to their homes and resume their business, the officials said.
The militants had occupied at least 10 homes of Sikhs in Qasimkhel village on Tuesday. About 35 Sikh families have been living in Qasimkhel for many years.
The Taliban demand for jizia was resolved at a jirga or council held yesterday through the efforts of local tribal elders. The militants had said the Sikhs should pay jizia in accordance with Shariah or Islamic law.