Sikh returnees recall tales of Taliban horror

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Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers…reports Sanketh Pathak

Sikhs continue to move into India as attacks on minority communities reportedly increased in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in 2021.

On August 3, a group of 30 Sikhs from Afghanistan arrived India.

Several Sikh families who arrived from Afghanistan since 2021 have been accommodated in Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar, and are being assisted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Many of them were brought from Kabul to Delhi in private planes of Afghanistan’s Kam Airlines.

At present, arrangements have been made for everyone to stay by the Gurdwara committee. Most of them are Sikhs, who have been living in Afghanistan for many generations and have arrived to India leaving everything behind for the first time.

IANS visited the Gurdwara here and met some Sikh refugees to know how they left their homes, businesses and arrived to India to save their lives.

Dodged the Taliban by pretending to treat the child

Taran Singh, who is 32-year-old, lived with his family in Jalalabad area of Afghanistan since childhood. Taran used to run a medicine shop. When the Gurudwara in Kabul was attacked and many Sikhs were killed, he also started worrying about his family. Talking to IANS, Taran Singh said that the Taliban were not allowing him to go to India.

Somehow, he hired a car and left for Kabul with his family and children. On the way, when Talibani authorities asked him the reason for leaving, he told them that his child was ill and had to go to India for treatment. In this way, Taran Singh reached India from Kabul. He is happy to reach Delhi, but he is also sad to have lost his home and shop. Although he says that now he will never go back to Afghanistan.

Harjit Kaur’s brother and sister still stuck in Afghanistan

Harjeet Kaur (30) reached Delhi on August 3 with her husband and three children. Harjeet says that since the time the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, gunmen frequently visited them and use to scare them off. Her concern for her children forced Harjeet to leave Afghanistan. She arrived here safely with eight members of her family, but her one brother, sister-in-law and sister are still in Afghanistan. Due to non-availability of visa and some other difficulties, they could not come to India. Harjeet hopes that soon the rest of his family members will also be able to reach India.

Gurjit Kaur came to India with only two pairs of clothes

Gurjit Kaur (35) is one of the lucky ones who moved to Delhi a few months back. Gurjeet told IANS that she lived near the gurdwara in Kabul, which was targeted recently. After a bomb exploded near her house, she started worrying about her life and decided to go to India. Gurjit, the mother of five children, came to Delhi in a hurry with only two pairs of clothes. She says that she used to run a medicine shop and was born in Afghanistan. Coming to India for the first time, she now lives with her husband in New Mahavir Nagar area of Delhi, leaving behind her house, shop equipment, everything. The scenes of violence against Sikhs in Afghanistan are still fresh in Gurjit’s eyes. She also says that now she will never go back to Afghanistan.

SGPC is taking care

Surinder Pal Singh, member of SGPC and head of Sikh Mission Delhi, told IANS, “We have welcomed the Sikh brothers who have arrived from Afghanistan. The work of rehabilitation and other cooperation of these people is also being done by the committee. There are still about 110 Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan, out of which 61 people’s e-visas have been suspended.”

Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers. This is the reason, with the support of SGPC and Centre, Afghan minorities, Sikh community and Hindus are being brought to India.

On July 14 also, a batch of 21 Sikhs was brought to India by private ‘Kam’ airlines of Afghanistan.

According to the information, there were about 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan by 2020, but many people left Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in August 2021.

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