Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Source: The Tribune

London, March 7

Two teenagers have been found guilty of murdering a 16-year-old Afghan Sikh refugee in London who they mistakenly thought belonged to a rival gang, according to Scotland Yard.

Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, both 18, were convicted for the murder of Rishmeet Singh “in cold blood” on Monday following a trial at the Old Bailey court in London.

The duo will be sentenced at the same court next month. “Rishmeet was an innocent, young 16-year-old who had his whole life ahead of him.

He had just spent an enjoyable evening with his friends and was making the short walk home when he was callously chased down and knifed to death by Balakrishnan and Suleiman,” said Detective Inspector Laura Semple, from the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Command. The police said that between them, the two teens stabbed Singh 15 times while he was “defenceless on the floor”. “There is never an excuse to murder someone in cold blood, but this case is made even more tragic by the fact that Rishmeet was wrongly targeted by his attackers. Balakrishnan and Suleiman left the flat that day with the intention of ending someone’s life,” said Semple.

“Poor Rishmeet was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. My thoughts are with his family and friends, who have shown extraordinary courage throughout, including during the trial where they were forced to re-live his horrific last moments,” she added.

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New Delhi: 51-year-old Gurpreet Sahni (name changed) arrived in Delhi last August. He was part of a batch of 30 Afghan Sikhs who were evacuated two months following a terrorist attack on one of Kabul’s largest gurdwaras that killed two. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then written to the community, condemning the attack and paving the way for their evacuation to India.

However, after six months and an expired e-visa, Sahni is prepared to return to Afghanistan.

“If I don’t get a Canadian visa within the next few months, I’ll go back to Kabul and find a job there. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) process also does not seem like an option. There’s no point waiting here,” he told ThePrint, sipping tea and looking wistfully out the window of his 3-BHK apartment in Tilak Nagar. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, offers a pathway of citizenship for persecuted religious minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, it only applies to those who arrived in India before 31 December 2014. Therefore, Afghan Sikhs fleeing the recent Taliban takeover haven’t been able to pursue Indian citizenship under this law. 

Sahini explained that he was finding it increasingly difficult to support his six children, wife and sister-in-law, especially after all their e-visas expired in December 2022. He is one of about 350 Afghan Sikhs in India who are waiting for visas to Canada.

According to Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney, an estimated 120 Afghan Sikhs, who took refuge in India, are now in Canada. About 17 have gone to the US.

Sahney, who is helping the refugees in India, said those who reached Canada are part of a programme under which the Canadian government has offered to cover house rent and provide monthly stipends of Rs 1.2 lakh (Can$ 2,000) to adults of the household for one year.

Sahney has been helping the refugees in India alongside the heads of two gurdwaras in Delhi. Chabol Singh, 57, an Afghan Sikh living in India for over two decades, is the main coordinator for the refugees.

Chabol Singh, 57, an Afghan Sikh living in Delhi for over two decades, is coordinating the journey of refugees to Canada | ThePrint

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By Neetu Garcha Global News

Sikhs in Afghanistan have faced decades of religious prosecution, prompting many to flee the country in search of a fresh start. Neetu Garcha speaks with two teenagers who now call British Columbia home, and are celebrating the freedom and independence they once thought was impossible – Jan 11, 2023 – Click here for the video from Global News

Two Sikh teenage girls who were born and raised in Afghanistan are enjoying freedoms in Canada that most Canadians their age take for granted — and as a Taliban crackdown on women’s rights continues to restrict opportunities for those still in that country.

“I can go outside, I can talk with my friends and meet them somewhere, I can go to school,” 13-year-old Chandar Kaur Khalsa told Global News.

The Grade 8 student from Afghanistan’s Helmand province moved to B.C. in 2019 with her brothers and parents. She said she wants to become a chef and loves to go shopping, noting how it’s a very different experience in Afghanistan, where she could hardly leave her home.

“My father and my brother, they would go outside and call us and show us what we can buy and we say to them what we want to buy,” she said.

For 15-year-old Chaspal Kaur Khalsa, who was also born in Helmand, being able to experience such freedoms is a more recent shift. She came to Canada in the spring of 2022. The Grade 10 student lives in B.C., works at a local restaurant, and hopes to become a nurse.

“My mother tells me, ‘You are very lucky you live in Canada,’ and, ‘You have a very bright future in Canada,’” she said.

Sikhs in Afghanistan have faced decades of oppression, with the majority fleeing the country seeking religious freedom.

Hamreet Bains, a B.C. resident, travelled to India in 2015 and spent months helping Sikh families, including the Khalsas, who had fled Afghanistan and became refugees awaiting resettlement to Canada.

“We have letters the Taliban sent them to either convert to Islam or accept death,” Bains said of the oppression facing Sikhs in Afghanistan.

Picking up families at the airport, bringing them to the United Nations office to register as refugees, trying to find temporary housing and education are all things that need to be done to help those trying to resettle — along with finding healthcare.

“All the kids were malnourished, and each family’s needs were different,” Bains said.

Bains sprung into this service after being inspired by former Alberta Cabinet Minister Manmeet Bhullar.

“I was only a small part of something so big,” Bains said.

In 2015, Bhullar learned the plight of persecuted Hindu and Sikh families in Afghanistan, who had tried for years to come to Canada. Bhullar worked tirelessly to help them through his passion for selfless service, a pillar of his Sikh faith called seva.

“He treated them like family and said, ‘If I have to give everything I have for these families, I will. We have to try everything,’” Bains said.

But Bhullar would never see the impact of his efforts. Just six months after starting the work in 2015, he died in a vehicle collision, while he was trying to help a driver in distress.

“Seva, or selfless service, was his passion and he lived by that,” Bains said.

She said that just a few days after losing his son, Bhullar’s father continued the work in his name. A short time later, the family helped establish a foundation in his name.

Since then, the group has worked with several partners, including the Canadian government, to help resettle 220 Afghans in Canada, according to Manmeet’s sister, Tarjinder Kaur Bhullar.

“It’s a foundation I wish we never had to start,” she said.

She said the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation is now helping another 270 people be sponsored through a government-assisted program as it prepares to resettle a third group of about 300 Afghans in need.

“I think one of the most eye-opening pieces of this is the privilege that every single one of us has being Canadian,” Bhullar said, adding after the sudden death of her brother, another lesson became clear.

“We are all one life event away from a totally different life. Privilege is a powerful thing, it’s also a fleeting thing. You have it today, you may not have it tomorrow. I always remind myself, that once we had it all,” she said.

Bhullar said that her brother would always encourage those he helped to pay it forward and that she hopes in the case of the hundreds of Afghans being supported in his memory, they will carry on the acts of seva.

“It’s the next generation of people that hopefully will see they have a life here in Canada because someone halfway around the world started to think, how can we help them?”

Chandar and Chaspal both said they want to find a way to help other young girls.

“My message for other girls: if you want anything, then you can do anything,” Chaspal said.

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Source: Pakistan Observer

According to local media, an explosion occurred in the city of Jalalabad located in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the incident happened in the fourth district of this city near Sikh temple.

According to the Sputnik news agency, the head of the Taliban’s Intelligence and Culture Department in Nangarhar confirmed the explosion and said that 6 civilians were injured in the bomb explosion in Jalalabad city.

Early on June 18, heavily-armed militants targeted a gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, in the Afghan capital Kabul. Several blasts tore through the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighborhood before militants opened fire and hurled grenades at the site. At least two people were killed and another seven injured in the attack.

The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), an Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the gurdwara.

According to statistics, there were around 220,000 Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan in the 1980s. That figure dropped to 15,000 in the early 1990s and to 1,350 in 2016. The multiple attacks on Sikhs between 2018 and 2021, especially the assault on the Rai Sahib gurdwara, forced thousands to flee Afghanistan.—Afghanistan Times

Related article on Pajhwok Afghan News site.

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Source: Pajhwok Afghan News by Yousuf Zarifi

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The only remaining Sikh in eastern Nangarhar province, Gulcharan Singh, says his love for the country is not letting him migrate elsewhere and has forced him to stay and serve his countrymen.

Singh, 60, a resident of Sherzad district, has been running a Greek medicine shop in Jalalabad city for decades. He says his profession is a family heirloom and he has served his people for decades with great pride.

After the fall of former president Dr. Najibullah’s government, he recalled, Sikhs started leaving Afghanistan. Only 45 families out of 10,000 families remained in Nangarhar until recently.

He said a new wave of Sikhs migration began after the recent political change, but after the Daesh-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul, many Sikh families left Nangarhar, Ghazni and Kandahar provinces.

Singh said out of the 45 families, his family was the only one remaining in Nangarhar and all other Sikh families left Afghanistan and handed over their businesses to their pupils.

He said the Sikhs started leaving Afghanistan after the collapse of Dr. Najib’s government. “Their children got education abroad. They have either sold their properties here or people have seized them.”

Singh said he faced no problem in the current government and the governor of Nangarhar and some other security officials had repeatedly visited him and assured him of all kind of cooperation and security.

He added: “The governor himself came, the director of intelligence came. They gave me their phone numbers and said to contact them if I faced any problem from anyone.”

Gulcharan Singh’s children, like other Afghan Sikhs, are in India where they received education. One of his sons, who is a doctor, runs a small hospital in India.

“Anderpal Singh is my eldest son, my second son is Sandeep Singh who is also a doctor, my third son is a computer science graduate and the fourth is a 12th grader.”

The only Afghan Sikh left in Nangarhar says he could live a comfortable life in India where his children reside “But my heart is attached to Afghanistan and I don’t enjoy living there (India)”.

“We are Afghans and familiar with the climate of Afghanistan. I fall sick wherever I go to India. My heart is happy here, otherwise my business is very good there.”

Gulcharan Singh said still many people in Nangarhar used Greek medicine for treatment and with it his business was running

He hoped that one day the situation in the country would improve and the exiled Afghan Sikhs would return to Afghanistan.

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Source: Business Standard (Press Trust of India)

The Centre on Monday decided to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and currently living in two districts of Gujarat under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The move to grant citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and not the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) bears significance.

The CAA also provides for granting Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but as the rules under the Act have not been framed by the government yet, no one so far could be granted citizenship under it.

According to a Union home ministry notification, those Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians residing in the districts of Anand and Mehsana in Gujarat will be allowed registration as a citizen of India under section 5 or will be granted certificate of naturalisation under section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Rules, 2009.

Such people living in the two districts of Gujarat have to submit their applications online which will then be verified by the collector at the district level. The application and reports thereon shall be simultaneously made accessible online to the central government, the notification read.

The collector may make such inquiry as he considers necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant and for that purpose forwards the application online to such agencies for verification and comments as may be required for completing such an inquiry, it said.

After completing the entire process, the collector, being satisfied with the suitability of the applicant, grants him or her the citizenship of India by registration or naturalisation and issues a certificate of registration or naturalisation, as the case may be, the notification said.

The Narendra Modi government wants to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who had come to India till December 31, 2014.

There were massive protests in some parts of the country after the CAA was passed by Parliament in December 2019 and the subsequent presidential nod. Over a hundred people lost their lives during the protests.

However, the CAA has not been implemented so far as rules under it are yet to be framed.

According to the Manual on Parliamentary Work, the rules for any legislation should have been framed within six months of presidential assent or seek extension from the Committees on Subordinate Legislation in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

In January 2020, the home ministry notified that the Act would come into force from January 10, 2020, but it later requested the parliamentary committees in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha to give it some more time to implement rules as the country was going through its worst ever health crisis due to the Covid pandemic.

Last fortnight, the Union home ministry had been granted yet another extension by the Parliamentary Committees on Subordinate Legislation in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha to frame the rules of the CAA.

While the permission has been granted from the Rajya Sabha till December 31, 2022, the Lok Sabha has granted time till January 9, 2023.

This was the seventh extension given to the home ministry to frame the rules under the CAA.

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Source: Pajhwok Afghan News

KABUL (Pajhwok): A special flight carrying 55 Sikh and Hindu refugees from Afghanistan has landed in New Delhi, Indian media reported on Monday.

The latest batch of minority members leaving Afghanistan late on Sunday included 38 adults and 17 children, the Press Trust of India said.

The Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee arranged the special flight that landed in the Indian capital Sunday evening.

Indian lawmaker Vikramjit Singh Sahney said they had been in contact with the Ministry of External Affairs for the evacuation of the Sikhs and Hindus stranded in Afghanistan.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan facilitated the repatriation of the minority members, who would be given all possible facilities, the MP said.

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