Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

This documentary by Pritpal Singh focuses on the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities, but this time through the lens of Afghan immigrants to the UK, particularly Southall in London.


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My first year at UC Berkeley, I enrolled in a course offered once every four years: History and Culture of Afghanistan. From then began a safar of desperately seeking every possible grain of knowledge pertaining to the country. However, I remained deprived on one aspect – the Sikh community of Afghanistan. After doing countless presentations based on whatever I could find, I discovered Pritpal Singh’s efforts and depiction from a Sikh perspective. I was elated. Mission Afghanistan finally introduced the Afghan Sikh community to the world. Following up on Mission Afghanistan’s coverage of the plight of Sikhs living in Afghanistan, ‘Hindu Kush to Thames’ sheds light on those who have emigrated. Skillfully filmed and directed by Ariadne Bechthold, this is a one-of-a-kind documentary on a non-Punjabi Sikh immigrant population.

Once known for its thriving trade routes and culture, Afghanistan has now become known for its turbulent political history, causing many Afghans to migrate. Most of the migration is said to have occurred during the Civil War years and under Taliban rule. Of the more than 50,000 Afghan Sikh and Hindu families that lived in Afghanistan, of which about 3000 were left according to Rawail Singh, deputy head of the Afghanistan Sikh and Hindu Community Council. Thousands of miles away from the homeland however, a small community of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have preserved the culture and traditions of the dwindling community.

In this documentary filmed and directed by the multitalented Ariadne Bechthold, Pritpal Singh focuses again on the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities, but this time through the lens of Afghan immigrants to the UK, particularly Southall. By carefully juxtaposing the life left behind, with life in their adopted homes, the sacrifices and struggles are masked with vibrant displays of faith, music, food and dance. The documentary also presents rare video footage of the Sikh traditions in Kabul in the late 80s, alongside Ardas in the nearly empty diwan halls of Kabul today, and the vibrant and overflowing hall of Gurudwara Southall, London. With touching depictions of the dilapidated mandirs and gurudwaras in Kabul, and impressive retention of their roots throughout generations on foreign soil, Bechthold and Singh share the story of immigrants who are rarely covered in Afghan mainstream media, or Sikh media.

Sikhs have been a vital part of the Afghan community. With interjections by historian Harbans Singh Handa, the audience learns of the various political positions held by Sikhs over the years in Afghanistan, even visiting the British home of the 3rd Sikh MP of Afghanistan: Gajender Singh. Other prominent personalities such as Inder Geet Singh are also introduced alongside second generation British-Afghans.

Strongly reflecting Afghan pride and ancestry, the documentary is primarily filmed in Farsi with English narration. ‘Hindu Kush to Thames is filmed and directed by Ariadne Bechthold with support of the Gharghasht Gharghakht, Afghan Voice Radio (UK) and Ajmeet Singh / Flo Studio. Reflecting the shared sense of nostalgia amongst all the Afghans, the documentary shows their connectedness with home. Often misunderstood to have immigrated from India, this is the story of Afghanistan’s religious minorities who have immigrated to London and made a name for themselves.

How has this community managed to retain its unique and often misunderstood identity on foreign soil? Be sure to watch the documentary on TheDutchSikh’s channel to find out!:


Harkiran Kaur Sodhi
University of California, Berkeley
United States
Class of 2014
B.A. Psychology | Near Eastern Studies

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Source: Tolo

Sikh community in Nangarhar province have said that their children have not proper place to continue their schooling. They said that their children are instead learning their lessons inside the temples due to lack of proper place.

In this part of Farakhabar, host Fawad Aman discusses the topic with the following guests:

Anarkali Honaryar, senator

Rawol Singh, deputy head of Hindu and Sikh Community of Afghanistan

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Source: Tolo

Close to 99 percent of former Hindu and Sikh citizens of Afghanistan have left the country over the past three decades.

An investigation by TOLOnews reveals that the Sikh and Hindu population number was 220,000 in the 1980’s. That number dropped sharply to 15,000 when the mujahideen was in power during the 1990’s and remained at that level during the Taliban regime. It is now estimated that only 1,350 Hindus and Sikhs remain in the country.

According to our findings, the main reasons behind their departure include religious discrimination and the government’s neglect of the minority group, during Taliban era in particular.

Awtar Singh, 57, of Paktia and head of Hindus Council in Afghanistan, said he lost 10 members of his family in the Afghan conflict. Two of his brothers, who were army soldiers, were killed during the last three decades of fighting.

“The discrimination against us surfaced in 1992 when people started counting who were Hindu or Muslim and Tajik, Uzbek or Hazara,” he said.

The TOLOnews report indicates that where Hindus and Sikhs were once very active in business within the country, they are now faced with increasing poverty.

“The situation is not good. We don’t have jobs,” said Narender Singh, a medical doctor.

“We work from dawn to dusk and we earn only about 300 Afghanis. We cannot even afford the rent for our home,” said Arat Singh, a shopkeeper in Kabul.

“We expect the government to seriously help and support the Hindus and Sikhs who have chosen to remain here. We also urge the people to treat them well and humanely,” said Sima Samar, chairperson of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

The report also shows that Hindus and Sikhs had suffered huge setbacks after the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001. This forced a large number of them to leave the countryside and to migrate to Kabul for a living. As a result there are no Sikh or Hindu citizens living in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

“Hindus are respected and honest citizens of this country. The National Unity Government has provided all facilities and needs for their religious ceremonies. It has also provided them with education and other services in their areas,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman, Shahussain Murtazawi.

Despite their problems, remaining Hindu and Sikh residents have said they are trying to continue with their lives in Afghanistan as they are optimistic about the country’s future.


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Source: Tolo

A number of Hindus and Sikhs in Jalalabad city, in Nangarhar province, claim that powerful figures have usurped their land.

They said this is the latest in a string of problems for them.

In addition to having their land grabbed, they said they are also struggling to ensure an education for their children.

“People grab our lands and there is no one to look after us and address our problems,” said one local Sikh resident.

“In the past there were many of us in the province but now our numbers have decreased and our problems have increased. Government does also not keep its promises to us,” said another Sikh.

Meanwhile Nangarhar provincial council has called on the respective institutions to provide these minority groups with decent living conditions in the province.

“No attention is paid to them but they are oppressed and government does not pay attention to them, nor consider them as Afghans but consider them as Hindus migrants – but they are Afghans. In the education sector separate schools are not built for their children so their children can learn and get access to higher education,” said Humaira Rafi a provincial council member.

Meanwhile, Nangarhar local officials said they are trying to address the problems experienced by the Hindus and Sikhs in the province.

“Currently we are also helping them and paying salaries for their teachers in their areas and providing them with books, and providing them security for their special ceremonies and also helping them with cash in order to hold their ceremonies properly and I think at any time efforts have been made to help and aid our Hindu and Sikh brothers,” said Attaullah Khogyani the governor’s spokesman.

Afghan Hindu and Sikhs argue that central government needs to address their problems.

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Afghans in India

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