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Archive for March, 2021

Source: The Indian Express

A year after 25 Afghan Sikhs were killed in the Kabul gurdwara attack in March last year, United Sikhs, an NGO affiliated to the United Nations, paid tribute to the deceased, and honoured the surviving families in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The attack had taken place inside the Guru Har Rai Sahib Gurudwara.

Chaibul Singh, 25, was in Ghazni in Afghanistan on March 25 last year when he got a call from a family member informing him about the gurdwara attack. Chaibul’s childhood friend and his uncle were among those killed.

In September 2020, Chaibul came to India on an emergency flight with eight other family members. They are yet to be officially classified as refugees or citizens of India. They have no Aadhaar card, which makes it difficult for them to find jobs. “That one incident changed our lives. While we had shops and homes there, we had to leave everything behind. Now, I work here for Rs 8,000 and my younger brother does a menial job earning Rs 7,000 a month. Lack of documentation and difficulty in speaking Hindi also works against us. We used to speak Pashto or Punjabi in Afghanistan. People find it difficult to understand my Punjabi dialect here,” added Chaibul.

Parvinder Singh Nanda, director, United Sikhs, said they had been working hard to support these families, as it was difficult for them to sustain by themselves.

“To even get medical treatment, they require money and some ID proof. We have helped them get passports, assisted with educational assistance and also provided them free medical assistance through the Delhi government. The next step is to seek assistance from the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, the process for which is under way,” he added.

Surbeer Singh, 39, of Ghazni, Afghanistan, a widely-respected religious leader of Sikh Afghan families in Delhi, says, “The Indian government has helped us by bringing us to the country through emergency flights. I know of at least 87 families who came to India, along with mine. We don’t need Aadhaar cards. We need to get resettled.”

Surbeer Singh’s concluding statement is illustrative and will stay with you. “I cannot get out of my mind the image of the three-year-old girl who was killed in the massacre. There were children, elderly people and women in the Gurdwara that day. The attack left people in shock. While we never feared anything earlier, this incident changed that and we were forced to start looking at other options.”

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Source: The Tribune

Describing Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan as “proud citizenry” of his land, the Afghanistan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar on Tuesday said that it would be the responsibility of the government to provide them with protection and security.

“We got to do that”, he said during a press conference here.

Disagreeing with the perception of Hindus and Sikhs being “especially” targetted in Afghanistan, Atmar said: “The violence against Afghans, unfortunately, did not spare our minorities either. So, it is not a kind of persecution against specific minorities per se. It’s the general violence against the entire nation and unfortunately, this part of the population has been disproportionately affected”.

Last July, India had said it would facilitate a settlement of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan.

There are about 1,000 Sikh and Hindus left in Afghanistan, and the sense of insecurity was heightened after the massacre in Gurudwara Guru Har Rai, Kabul, in May last year, followed by the kidnapping of a Sikh Nidan Singh Sachdeva.

“They are citizens of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is proud of them. It has been like, that for centuries, and will be like that. It is the responsibility of not just the Afghan government, but the Afghan people too to protect their federal brothers,’’ he declared.

Soon after the May 15, 2020, massacre at the Kabul Gurdwara, Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee Joe Biden had promised to raise the annual global refugee admissions cap to 1.25 lakhs if he won the November US Presidential elections.

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Country Policy and Information Note

Afghanistan: Hindus and Sikhs

By Government of UK

Click here to read the full report

If document is not available on official website, click here for a copy.

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