Archive for May, 2001

By Gopal Kukreja – May 28th 2001


Hindu community in Kandhar had a pride of having some known Hakeems (Yunani medicine practicioners) who had very strong practice in the city, especially among the muslim people. These Yunani medicines prescriptions were coming in these families from generations and had been working very well and was the only available remedy to minor sickness like fever, pain or stomoch disorders and impotency etc. etc. Medical doctors started practicing in Kandhar probably in 1960’s but initially people maintained more trust in Hakeems only. Some of the expensive herbs like Ambar, silver etc. were imported from India at that time.

An old story comes to my mind in this connection. There was a very famous hakeem in Kabul Bazar (I cannot remember his name). One day, wife of the governor of Kandhar fell sick and this hakeem was requested to pay a visit to examine her. Hakeem refused to do so and then governor requested him again. Finally Hakeem agreed to examine his wife on the condition that governor sends his own horse with his horseman to pick Hakeem up from his place. It was agreed and the whole muslim shopkeepers and sidewalkers were surprised to see a Hindu on the horse which was not allowed those days. This event happened probably around 80-90 years ago.The wife of the governor recovered with the treatment of the Hakeem..

The governor asked the Hakeem for a reward. Hakeem demanded that Hindus be pardoned from wearing a rope around their waiste and be allowed to ride on a horse as other citizens. The governor wrote an order (FARMAN) on the same day in the honor of the Hakeem. Thus this honorable Hakeem brought a feeling of pride, honor and dignity to the community and coming generations.

Some of the famous hakeems were Late Shree Lakhmichandji Gawri, Late Shree Birbaldasji Gawri, Late shree Hondrajji Gawri, Late shree Niranjandas ji Gawri, Late shree Rattanchandji Gawri , Late shree Jeevan Dass ji Gawri, Late Shree Tekchand ji Gawri, Late Shree Chokha Ramji Gawri, Late shree Chandaramji Gawri, Shree ChanderKishore Gawri and all of these hakeems had their clinics in Kabul bazaar right in front lane of Shivalaya. All the medicines they prescribed were prepared with different herbs in their own clinics. Some of the prescription diaries of few of these hakeems are still available in India in their families.

Hon. Mr.Hariram Gawri from Toronto, Canada has supported in completing the above list of Hakeems.

Being in this prestigious profession, they were the pride of our community and they enjoyed wonderful financial gains, excellent life and real estate at their times.


A correction by Kavit Chanra (Germany Dec 16th 2002):
Nihalchand Chanra in Shikarpur Bazar was also a famous hakeem in Kandahar. He was a hakeem of children.

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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK – BBC


A controversial order that Hindus in Afghanistan should carry identity tags is designed to protect them from police harassment, a Taleban official has said.

Giving details of the edict, the head of the Taleban news agency said Hindus should carry thumb-size pieces of yellow cloth to identify themselves as non-Muslims.

The Taleban’s religious police has the power to detain people without trial for not complying with Islamic rulings.

A leader of the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan, Inder Singh Majboor, has said they are happy with the ruling if it spares them harassment from the religious police.

However, the tagging edict has been fiercely denounced outside the country as discriminatory and oppressive.

Mr Majboor said there had been no mention of new dress requirements for non-Muslim women – as mentioned in some reports.

He also said the Taleban had not interfered in Hindu or Sikh religious rituals or imposed any restrictions on them.

However, other members of the community said they would have no religious freedoms if they were told what to wear.

One man said he had an Indian visa and would rather leave than wear yellow identity tags.

The Taleban’s religious police regularly herd men into mosques at prayer time, often using short lengths of cable to whip them into line.

The police, whose job is to promote virtue and prevent vice, also check men’s beards to make sure they are at least the length of a fist.

The head of the Taleban news agency, Abdul Hanan Hemat, said identity tags for Hindus would mean the police would not harass them.

The tags are not deemed necessary for Sikhs because of their distinctive turbans.

Mr Hemat denied reports that Hindus would have to fly yellow flags from their roof tops.

Tuesday’s announcement of the tagging order prompted swift international condemnation.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called it “the latest in a long list of outrageous oppressions” by the country’s militant Muslim movement.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raminder Singh Jassal said his government “absolutely deplored such orders which patently discriminate against minorities”.

The Taleban’s Minister for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, Mohammed Wali, says the movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, will approve the new edict soon.

Under the directive, Hindu and Sikh women will also have to veil themselves like other Afghan women.

Afghanistan has only a tiny non-Muslim community, including several thousand Hindus and Sikhs and, it is thought, only one single Jew. Some 500 Hindus live in Kabul.

Most of the minorities left in the mid-1990s, when their property was looted by warring factions, but some returned to Afghanistan when the Taleban took power.

The Taleban’s destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in March raised fears for the safety of these minorities.

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May 23, 2001 Posted: 10:30 PM HKT (1430 GMT)

From staff and wire reports KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s ruling Taleban have defended an edict requiring Hindus to wear yellow badges to distinguish them from Muslims. A senior Taleban information ministry official said the ruling seeks to protect Hindus from religious police enforcing Muslim rules, such as growing beards and offering prayers in the mosque. But the edict, which requires Hindus to wear a yellow badge on their chests and for Hindu women to wear a head-to-toe veil just like Afghan women, has sparked outrage outside of the country. The enforced dress code, which some have compared to the practice in Nazi Germany of forcing Jews to wear yellow stars, is being seen as the latest sign of an increasingly hard line being taken by the isolationist Taleban. The militia, which controls 95 percent of Afghan territory, have imposed a harsh brand of Islam, banning education for girls, beating men for trimming their beards and prohibiting all forms of light entertainment including television.

Most of the Islamic world, including pro-Taleban Pakistan, has differed with the Taleban’s narrow interpretation of Islam and say the militia is tarnishing Islam’s image. Hindus wary of edict While the Taleban have argued the latest move is being carried out in response to demands by Hindus for protection, journalist Kamal Hyder told CNN that Hindus he had spoken with said they “do not feel discriminated against.” “Most of these Hindus … told us that they do not see discrimination in their day-to-day life,” he said. “They were of course apprehensive about any edict regarding dress code.” Hindus said they had heard radio reports about the edict but had not received any information about the new rules, and were concerned about its impact. Balbir Singh, a Hindu shopkeeper in the Afghan capital of Kabul, said the mark could cause “security problems” for him when he travels to the countryside where people might not like Hindus. Afghan women are obliged to cover themselves in public and are barred from working “We don’t feel safe with this,” he said. Mohammed Wali, the head of the religious police in Afghanistan, said the edict only applied to Hindus because there are no Christians or Jews in Afghanistan and the country’s small Sikh population can be easily recognized by their turbans. However, a spokesperson for the U.N. coordinating office for Afghanistan, based in the Pakistani city of Islamabad, told CNN that even if non-Muslims welcome the opportunity to show they are not Muslim, any edict should be carried out with their consent. “The freedoms in Afghanistan already are so very limited to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. If this is indeed a mandatory edict then it represents yet another curtailing of basic human freedom,” the spokesperson said. ‘Un-Islamic’ crackdown The labeling edict is the latest in a series of moves the Taleban have taken to crack down on what they regard as “un-Islamic” segments of Afghan society. In March, the Taleban ordered all Buddhist statutes in the country destroyed, including two ancient stone statues of Buddha carved into a cliff above the central city Bamiyan. The move sparked condemnation from governments as well as archaeological and religious groups around the world. Earlier this week the Taleban closed four of six United Nations political offices in Afghanistan to protest international sanctions imposed because of the Taleban’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism. Last week armed members of the Taleban religious police closed down an Italian-funded hospital used for treating civil-war victims. Staff working at the hospital were reportedly beaten following accusations that they had violated Islamic law by allowing men and women to eat together. Global outcry The labeling measure has drawn sharp criticism from both the United States and India, both of whom have called it a human rights violation. Washington has condemned the move as “the latest in a long list of outrageous repressions.” “Forcing social groups to wear distinctive clothing or identifying marks stigmatizes and isolates those groups and can never, never be justified,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington. The move also sparked anger in India home to the world’s largest population of Hindus. A foreign ministry spokesman said that the move was another example of the Taleban’s “obscurantist and racist” ideology. “We believe that such edicts have no place in civilized societies and have been rightly deplored by the international community,” Raminder Singh Jassal, told reporters in New Delhi. “International pressure must be brought to bear on the Taleban to rescind such discriminatory orders and allow all communities to live in dignity and respect,” he said. India does not recognize the Taleban government in Afghanistan, but maintains diplomatic relations with the Anti-Taleban Northern Alliance which controls only five percent of Afghanistan. Elsewhere in the country members of a right wing Hindu group the Bajrang Dal took to the streets of the Central-Indian city of Bhopal to protest against the Taleban edict, burning burnt effigies of the militia’s leader Mullah Omar. A leader of another right-wing group, the Shiv Sena, warned such edicts were issued so as to “oppress Hindus”. “Once Hindu homes, Hindu women are identified, it is easy to rob their houses and oppress their women.” Hindus in Afghanistan have not been the target of persecution and have generally been allowed to practice their religion freely. However, over decades of war, the number of Hindus has dwindled from a high of about 50,000 during the 1970s to 500 in the capital and small pockets elsewhere. The Associated Press & Reuters contributed to this report.

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By Gopal Kukreja – May 13th 2001


This is Gopal Kukreja s/o. Late Master Shyamlal Kukreja from Toronto, Canada and I would like to share some information about Kandhar which I experienced by talking to my late father and other elderly persons.

After the II war of Panipat in which Ahmad Shah Abdali known as Baba Ahmad Shah in Afghanistan was a winner, while coming back to Kandhar which was capital of Afghanistan at that time picked up five families of Hindus from Multan (formerly in Hindustan/India) now in Pakistan for rehabilitation in Kandhar especially to teach the Muslim population of Kandhar about the business tactics. Hindus are known to be second in business administration traditionally worldwide whereas the 1st number comes for Jews. Because of the special religious requirements of Hindus, even a separate barber was also brought to Kandhar at that time. Being a Muslim state, at first and upto a very very long period, hindus were asked to wear a rope around their waiste and were not allowed to ride on a horse also which were the signs of being a second grade citizens.

Military service for two years was compulsory for every Afghan citizen at that time but a rich person could send somebodyelse for 1000Afghanis at his place to serve in the military and this rule was terminated during the Zahirshah rule.

Kandhar being a very rich climate city had more than 30 types of grapes and other fruit which are not available anywhere in the world especially so tasty and so natural. Our Hindu community had a very strong role in running the economy of Kandhar as most of the imports of general merchandise and foreign trade was basically set up by Hindus and communitywise also Hindus were very strong in Kandhar.

We had a Pathshala in Shikarpur bazar and its educational standard was once known to be better than the government schools in Kandhar. During one of its’ cultural programmes when the that time governor of Kandhar was the chief guest, he was astonished to see the progress of the school and ordered to keep the school upto 6th grade only instead of upt 9th grade. Our authorities had to accept the ruling. We were proud to have great teachers like Late Jethanand ji Chabra (Sarmalim Sahab), Late Master Shyamlal ji Kukreja, Late Master Kanhaiyalal ji, Master Rattanchand ji, Tarjuman Sahab (English teacher), Master Nandlalji,

Master Kishanchandji and so many other respectable teachers who I am forgetting the names but all of these people had great impact on making our society so cultured and educated at that time and today we pay homage to all these great teachers and also to the unnamed teachers and contributors in making Kandhar’s society so respectable and progressive.

I would also like to name the organisors of the great Pathshala of Kandhar, Late Mr.Niranjandas ji Khatri, Hon.Mr. Hemrajji Khatri, Master Rattanchandji, Late Mr.Kishanchand ji Bhatija, Late Mr.Mohanlalji Kukreja, Mr. Rattanchand ji (master) and all others who contributed in making that pathshala a success of Kandhar. I do not remember probably most of the names but my intention is to pay my respect to each and every person named or unnamed while writing about our Kandhar. All these elderly people had a role in strenghthening our cultural heritage in that country which was our home but most of the times we were considered outsiders. We were considered outsiders in India also and in fact we are born homeless and refugees, but our elders struggled hard in adverse and opposite religious circumstances to give us a prestigious cultural background and established so many mandirs and gurudwaras in that city to keep our religion and culture alive. Let us pay our respects to all our elders today and together.

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