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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Afghan Hindu-Sikhs Return To Afghanistan From India

Few months ago, India offered escape to the minority community of Afghan Hindu Sikhs facing attacks in Afghanistan.

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Omid Sobhani
Omid Sobhani
Omid Sobhani is a senior journalist at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Transcontinental Times.

AFGHANISTAN. Kabul: Nine months ago, nearly 200 Afghan Hindu, Sikh left Afghanistan due to insecurity that threatened their lives. Now months after, around 40 families make a return back to their home on Sunday. They demand the government to provide them with shelter and schools for their children.

There have been many attacks on the non-Muslim minority of Afghanistan, Hindu Sikh community. One of the recent ones was in March 2020 when ISIS (Daesh) attacked on a Dharamshala temple in Kabul which killed 25 Afghan Sikhs and left many others wounded. ‎Acknowledging the threats received by the Hindu Sikh community in Afghanistan, India facilitated the return of these families and committed to expedite visa process and an opportunity for them to stay long term once they migrate to India.

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‏The evacuated families are now reaching back to their home in Afghanistan. TOLO News interviewed one of the families who have just arrived in Kabul from India.

Paramjit Kaur, father of 3 children, also takes care of 4 other children of his sister’s whose father died in last year’s Daesh attack in Kabul.

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“We want to live here. If government grants us with home, and a place to live, Paramjit told TOLO News.

“We thank the government for helping those who returned from India today,” Paramjit said. 

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Read Also: Civilians Killed In Roadside Bomb In Helmand, Afghanistan

“My husband had died, and here I am with no future for my children, ” another returnee said.

The Afghanistan government supported them with cash, medicine, food materials and pledged to shelter them and their children will be provided with access to education. 

Narendra Singh Khalsa, the Sikh representative at the Afghanistan parliament said, ”Out of 5,000 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, only 900 of them remained in the country, over the last 18 years, and their properties have been taken by others in Kabul, Ghazni, and Nangarhar.”

“I am hopeful that our president that issued an order for the urban development ministry, and the education ministry will also help us in this part, ” he said.

There are two representatives of Afghan Hindu Sikhs in the parliament. Dr. Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, another member of the Afghan Sikh community who is serving in the upper house of the Afghanistan parliament also represents the Hindu Sikhs.

Afghan government or any political group has been never found to be openly discriminating against the non-Muslim minorities. In fact Hindu Sikh community has one representation in Afghan parliament. It’s also a criminal offence to discriminate anyone on the basis of religion in Afghanistan. However, According to the statistics, nearly 48 Afghan Sikhs died and 30 others were wounded in the country for the past 4 years. Meanwhile, the recent violence raged dramatically on civilians, high-profile figures, women, journalists, students, and religious minorities that forced many to leave.

It is estimated that there were around 700 000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in the 70s. Majority of the community has migrated and current estimates that around 7000 families are left in the country.

Many bunches of people, including the ethnic minorities left Afghanistan in recent months. Earlier this month, 44 Afghan Kyrgyz left the Pamir area of Badakhshan, Afghanistan to obtain the Kyrgyzstan citizenship they were granted. Months ago, another 100 Kyrgyz left their homes for Kyrgyzstan.


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