Afghanistan in Turmoil, Lives of Hindus and Sikhs in Threat

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Disturbances and the violent situations have been a constant in Afghanistan since the 1990s after the Taliban occupation. There seemed to be a slight peace at the turn of the century but situations have turned for the worse again.

Afghanistan has been a multicultural country just like India from the very beginning. People belonging to different religions and beliefs have lived in the country ever since but disturbances and terrorism in the name of religion, ethnicity, and tribe have become common to Afghanistan. The same thing is happening today too.

Although people belonging to different religions live in the country, Islam is the dominant and major religion there. But living in minority are many Sikh and Hindu families too. According to reports, there lived as many as 25,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in the 1990s, but now the number has dwindled to approximately a mere 300 families. The major reason for this shift in population is Islamic terrorism.

As we all know, terrorism, especially Islamic terrorist groups have very deep roots in the part of the world where Afghanistan is located. The terrorist groups have been fighting for decades to make the countries with majority Muslim population into countries where people following only Islamic beliefs reside and to eliminate all people belonging to other religions.

Out of the fear for their lives, people have been fleeing the country in huge numbers and finding refuge in other countries. Another terrorist attack which has reinstated the fear for their lives among the Hindus and Sikhs living there was the suicide bombing that happened in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 13 members of the Sikh community there. The victims included Avtar Singh Khalsa, the only Sikh candidate in parliamentary elections this October, and Rawail Singh, a prominent community activist.

Now following the incident fear among the residents have deepened further. “I am clear that we cannot live here anymore,… Our religious practices will not be tolerated by the Islamic terrorists. We are Afghans. The government recognizes us, but terrorists target us because we are not Muslims,” said Tejvir Singh, the secretary of a national panel of Hindus and Sikhs, whose uncle was killed in the blast.

The Indian government is open and ready to welcome any Hindu or Sikh person who wants to come here. The Indian government has even started issuing long-term visas to Afghani Sikhs and Hindus which will enable them to access all facilities in the country. “They can all live in India without any limitation,” said Vinay Kumar, India’s ambassador to Afghanistan. “The final call has to be taken by them. We are here to assist them.”

Although now many people are looking at ways of escapes, many are against leaving their home, as they consider Afghanistan to be. It is now completely up to the people to choose their route as it is their right and no one can force them to choose their path. But if they want to, India is all set to welcome them with open arms.

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