From a lakh in the 1970s to just 140 now: What happened to the Sikhs in Afghanistan?
India has offered support to evacuate the Parwan Sikhs as they are a vulnerable community in Afghanistan
New Delhi, Jun 18: Terrorists of the Islamic State carried out an attack inside the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The terrorists entered the Gurdwara at 8.30 am today after shooting dead the security guard.
Around 30 Afghan Hindus and Sikhs were inside the Gurdwara at the time of the incident. Many managed to flee the Gurdwara when the attack began. The attack comes days after the Islamic Statea released a video threatening to repeat the 2020 Gurdwara attack.
The Karte Parwan Sikhs are a vulnerable community in Afghanistan and India has offered its support to evacuate them from the Taliban ruled country. The Islamic State has been targeting the minorities for long ever since it set up shop in Afghanistan. They have killed many members of the minority communities including Tajiks, Hazaras, Sikhs and Uzbeks.
An official tells OneIndia that the Islamic State is carrying out these attacks at the behest of the ISI which has directed them to indulge in ethnic cleansing. In fact the Sikh community is the biggest target for the ISI and since the the take over of the Taliban the community has become even more vulnerable.
In March 2020 27 Sikhs were killed and several injured after the Islamic State terrorists at Sri Guru Rai Sahib Gurdwara in the Short Bazar area of Kabul.
The Indian agencies say that while the Islamic State carries out the attack, it is always at the behest of the ISI. The attack that took place in March came just three months after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in Parliament.
The Sikhs are a persecuted religious minority in Afghanistan. The citizenship law offers citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
In 2018, a bombing targeting Hindus and Sikhs at Jalalabad took place. One of the 19 killed in that blast was Avtar Singh Khalsa who was running for MP. This attack was claimed by the Islamic State.
Experts point out that it has been the motive of the ISI to use groups such as the Taliban or Islamic State to ethnically cleanse the the Sikh and Hindu minority in Afghanistan as has been taking place in Pakistan as well.
The Sikh population has gone down drastically in Afghanistan over the years. At first they were targeted by the Taliban again at the behest of the ISI. The ISI wants to rid Afghanistan completely of the minorities as it wants to make Afghanistan a full-fledged Islamic nation.
The fanatical religious violence has ruined the Sikh community who once numbers in tens of thousands. They have been discriminated against, killed and driven away from their homes. The Sikhs have been living in Afghanistan for centuries but for many years they have not been offered protection.
In the 1970s the Sikh population in Afghanistan was 100,000, but according to the community their numbers until last year was just 240. Following the hasty US withdrawal and the Taliban takeover last year many Sikhs fled in fear. As of today the numbers are estimated at 140.
There have been reports of them being driven out of their lands and homes by powerful warlords in the 1990s. Another issue they have faced is that since they are not part of the mainstream, they are either forcibly converted as Sunni Muslims or are killed.