Afghan Sikhs & Gurdwaras in very bad condition; help sought from SGPC

AMRITSAR: Talibanization of Afghan society over the last decade and the unrest related to dethroning the radicals has uprooted hundreds of Sikh families from Afghanistan. The Sikhs who had made the distant country their home for centuries now are living in pitiable conditions and had been heading either to Pakistan or India for shelter.

This was stated by none else but by a Member of Parliament in Afghanistan Anarkali Kaur Honayar who was in Punjab recently to take part in the Punjabi Conference held at Panjabi University, Patiala. Honayar said the Sikhs and their shrines in Afghanistan were in pitiable conditions and they require help from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and even the government of Punjab.

Though she stated that the Hamid Karzai government has been doing a lot for the Sikhs by ensuring their security and that of the Gurdwaras but a lot is to be done in the field of education and towards providing a general secure environment for the minority community.

Honayar stated that the condition of the Hindus and their temples was also deplorable and they too needed help as the Afghan society, which had been tolerant and liberal was highly radicalized due to the past years’ unrest.

There were over 50,000 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan till 1991 but their number has dropped drastically and they had been migrating to safer places, especially to Peshawar area of Pakistan where also the situation is critical due to the Talibans’s presence.

Honayar, who is also a renowned human rights activist, stated that the situation is so worrisome that the Sikhs and Hindus are forced to marry their daughters at the age of 13 or so due to lack of security for girls.

She said that there had been reports of kidnapping of girls and in general there is discrimination with the minorities in Afghanistan.

She said many of the Gurdwaras were damaged, including the one at Kabul, during various combats between Talibans and US forces. These Gurdwaras, she added, needed immediate repair and the SGPC could extend help in this regard.

She said the Karzai government has opened two schools each in Kabul and Jalalabad and there is plan to build a mini city too for the Sikhs and Hindus but a lot more is needed to be done to ensure their safety and that of their religious shrines and business establishment which will quell migration.