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Archive for June, 2014

Source: Tolo

In a country where the overwhelming population is Muslim and the state religion is Islam, members of non-Muslim minority communities in Afghanistan face issues of harassment, poverty, unemployment, education deficits and forced conversion. After years in exile during the Taliban regime, many Hindus and Sikhs returned to Afghanistan with high hopes but years of marginalization and neglect have left them less hopeful, and in some cases, ready to leave again.

Raj Singh Kapoor is of Indian descent and lives with his family in Kabul. According to him, he and his kin are passed like a football between Afghanistan and India, unwanted and unserved by either country.

“I went to India four times, but we are called Afghans in India and Hindu in Afghanistan; We are a football between India and Afghanistan, and we are confused where to go,” Kapoor told TOLOnews.

Another Hindu named Hajiji is most concerned with the lack of economic opportunity afforded to people of his faith in Afghanistan.

“Afghan officials do not employ us, and they haven’t helped us in the past,” Hajiji said. “We cannot go to India either, because we don’t have anything to live for, what should we do?”

Indera Kwar, another Hindu Afghan who lives with her three kids in Kabul, indicated she feared being forced to convert was enough for her to consider packing her and her children up to move out of Afghanistan.

“Our son has been threatened, he was arrested yesterday by a number of Muslims that were trying to convert him to Islam by force,” Kwar said on Sunday. “We think we might have to leave this country.”

Kwar went on to explain that the discrimination she and her children suffer comes in the form of a lack of opportunity.

“There is no opportunity for education, and there are no good schools. I have three kids and my husband does not have a good job either,” she said.

The newly elected Indian government in Delhi, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, has promised to improve its relations with the Afghan government.

However for everyday Hindus and Sikhs, it remains unclear what official relations between the two governments will do for their everyday lives.

For now, Hindu and Sikh Afghans continue to face marginalization and inequality to such an extent that, for many of them, the hope they came to the country with after the fall of the Taliban has disappeared, and their desire to stay along with it.

 

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Source: Press Trust of India

Frustrated at being discriminated in their home country, Hindus and Sikhs here feel they have been treated “like a football” between India and Afghanistan, as they hope the Indian government will bail them out.

Seeing followers of religions other than Islam is a rare sight here but some Sikhs and Hindus who have been living here for generations have kept alive their traditions and faith but life has not been easy for them.

They are Afghanis but their survival is under threat hence they want India to recognise them and provide them opportunities to work and settle within their community in India.

“Our forefathers came here many years ago and dominated economy but situation for us has now worsened and we are facing very hard time, harassment and discrimination in daily life from the people here. We have no job opportunity, no work, no education for children, no authority and we live in a terrifying situation,” Rajendra Singh, a Sikh man who is a herb trader, told PTI.

“Our children face discrimination in education. They cannot play outside the home. We are poor people and cannot afford private education. I want my children to be educated so I managed to go to India two years back but the experience was bitter and we were forced to come back,” he said.

Singh, who lives in a rented accommodation with three other Hindu families, said that local government does not help them and the Indian government also does not recognise them, leaving him with an uncertain future.

“We are like a football between India and Afghanistan. India says you are Afghani and Afghanistan also questions our existence here. Now our only hope is from the government of India because our forefathers came from there,” a seemingly frustrated Singh said.

Indira Kaur, a mother of three children, said, “People here disrespect and want us to adopt Islam that we cannot do. They harass us and sometime forcibly take away our children, saying the kids belong to them. We are completely unsafe.”

Kaur said she went to India in the hope of good days and bought school bags and books for her children but her dream was shattered when they were compelled by Indian authorities to leave the country in a few months.

She and other women grow vegetables inside the rented campus so that they can avoid going outside.

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