Kabul, September 27
Afghanistan’s dwindling neighborhood of Sikhs and Hindus is shrinking to its lowest ranges. With rising threats from the native Islamic State affiliate, many are selecting to depart the nation of their delivery to flee the insecurity and a once-thriving neighborhood of as many as 2,50,000 members now counts fewer than 700.
The neighborhood’s numbers have been declining for years due to deep-rooted discrimination within the majority Muslim nation. However, with out what they are saying is satisfactory safety from the federal government, the assaults by the Islamic State group might full the exodus.
“We’re now not in a position to keep right here,” mentioned a member of the tiny neighborhood, who requested to be recognized solely by his final identify, Hamdard, out of worry he could also be focused for talking out.
Hamdard mentioned seven family of his, together with his sister, nephews, and son-in-law have been killed by Islamic State gunmen in an assault on the neighborhood’s temple in March, which killed 25 Sikhs.
Hamdard mentioned that fleeing his homeland is as troublesome as leaving a mom behind. Nonetheless, he joined a gaggle of Sikhs and Hindus who left Afghanistan final month for India, from the place they are going to finally transfer on to a 3rd nation.
Though Sikhism and Hinduism are two distinct religions with their very own holy books and temples, in Afghanistan the communities are interwoven, having been pushed right into a kinship by their tiny dimension, they usually each collect underneath one roof or a single temple to worship, every following their very own religion.
The neighborhood has suffered widespread discrimination within the conservative Muslim nation, with every authorities “threatening us their very own method,” mentioned Hamdard, whose residence was seized by warlords after the US invasion in 2001, forcing him to reside in one in every of two Sikh temples within the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Beneath Taliban rule within the late 1990s, Sikhs and Hindus have been requested to determine themselves by carrying yellow armbands, however after a world outcry, the rule was not enforced.
Additionally driving the exodus is the shortcoming to reclaim Sikh houses, companies and homes of worship that have been illegally seized years in the past.
Hindu temples in Kabul’s previous metropolis have been destroyed throughout brutal preventing between rival warlords from 1992-96. The preventing drove out scores of Hindu and Sikh Afghans.
Except for the March assault by IS gunmen, a 2018 Islamic State suicide assault within the metropolis of Jalalabad killed 19 individuals, most of them Sikhs, together with a longtime chief who had nominated himself for the Afghan parliament.
“Struggling large fatalities for a small neighborhood shouldn’t be tolerable,” mentioned Charan Singh Khalsa, a pacesetter of the Sikh neighborhood dwelling overseas, who declined to say the place he was dwelling out of worry for his security.
He left Afghanistan after his brother was kidnapped and killed in an assault by gunmen in Kabul two years in the past.
He mentioned the final three years have been the worst interval for all Afghans, however particularly so for Sikhs and Hindus.
Neighborhood leaders have slammed current governments for failing to step up safety within the face of the IS menace.
Afghanistan’s authorities in 2010 determined to dedicate a chair within the nationwide meeting to non secular minorities, and there have since been two Sikh representatives.
However Khalsa known as these posts “symbolic”. He criticised the federal government for taking too lengthy to grant political illustration powers to the neighborhood and for failing to “present safety to our locations of worship.”
A senior Sikh neighborhood chief instructed The Related Press that the group is in negotiations with the federal government over its safety wants and the repairing of the temple after it was destroyed in March’s assault. The neighborhood chief spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to debate the negotiations with the media.
At a press convention final month, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, mentioned that members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu neighborhood will return as soon as peace is restored.
The president’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark from the AP, however different Afghan officers have pledged to help the neighborhood.
“We’ll use all our amenities to supply safety to the individuals,” Inside Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian mentioned, with out elaborating.
“We’re dedicated and accountable for their (Sikhs and Hindus) psychological and private safety.” It’s not clear what sort of safety measures are being mentioned, nor after they is likely to be seen on the bottom.
Till then, the neighborhood’s flight is accelerating, with giant numbers of Sikhs and Hindus persevering with a current pattern of searching for asylum in India.
In August, a gaggle of 176 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus went to India on particular visas. They have been the second batch since March, with the primary 11 members arriving in India in July.
Khalsa mentioned group of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Canada and European nations has volunteered to sponsor the exodus of these remaining in Kabul who can’t afford air tickets and non permanent lodging in a transit nation.
A number of Canadian legislators have requested the nation’s immigration ministry for a particular programme for Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees, requesting that they be dropped at security in Canada amid the rising safety menace.
For Afghan Sikhs, the considered being uprooted is painful, regardless of the circumstances.
“It’s arduous to depart our birthplace however we now have no different choice,” mentioned Hamdard. “Afghanistan doesn’t need us anymore.” — AP