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Afghan Hindus, Sikhs in Limbo While Stuck in India

 

WASHINGTON - Afghan Hindus and Sikhs who moved to India because of deteriorating security in their country are struggling with poor living conditions, and some families have even returned to Afghanistan.

“We are in a situation that we have no option,” said Singh, a 24-year-old Sikh who lost his father, nephew and sister-in-law in a March 2020 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar area that killed 25 people. “We cannot go to Afghanistan, and we are stuck in India. We have not been relocated to the U.S. or Canada as we were promised.”

In the aftermath of the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, about 200 Hindu and Sikh families left for India — some on special visas — in hopes of being relocated to a third country.

As reported by The Associated Press, members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu diaspora — most of them based in Canada and Europe — agreed in August to sponsor the exodus to India, which is home to large Hindu and Sikh communities. 

Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack to a Sikh temple in Kabul on March 25, 2020. - The Islamic…
Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack to a Sikh temple in Kabul on March 25, 2020.

Several Canadian legislators also called for a program to grant Afghan Sikhs and Hindus special refugee status, but VOA could not verify whether any were successfully transferred to North America as a result.

Last month about 40 Hindu and Sikh families returned to Afghanistan after staying in India for some nine months.

Singh, who asked that his full name not be used, said that living in India was hard because “one cannot find a job, and we have no financial support.”

Sarmeet Singh, 25, an Afghan Sikh who has been living in India since his father was assassinated in Herat, Afghanistan, two years ago, said the COVID-19 lockdown has made finding work “even more difficult.”

Sarmeet, who has a 4-year-old daughter, said if circumstances don’t change, he’ll be forced to return despite the risk of violence.

“If there are no suicide attacks and targeted killings, I and other Sikhs would return to our home country,” Sarmeet told VOA.

An Afghan Sikh boy mourns the victims who were killed during yesterday's attack at Sikh religious complex during a funeral in…
An Afghan Sikh boy mourns the victims who were killed during an attack at Sikh religious complex during a funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2020.

‘Sign of hope’

Once home to thriving Sikh and Hindu minorities, Afghanistan has seen these communities shrink from an estimated 250,000 in the 1980s to less than 1,000 as a result of ongoing warfare and targeted discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation.

The ongoing withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, which is already more than 50% complete, has triggered a recent surge of violence.

Dawa Khan Menapal, director of the Kabul-based Government Media and Information Center, said that the Afghan government is committed to providing security to the Hindu and Sikh communities.

“We have addressed their concerns. We have taken measures for their safety,” Menapal said, adding that some Hindu and Sikh families have recently returned to Afghanistan.

Asadullah Yusufi, a commissioner at Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said that the return of dozens of Hindu and Sikh families to Afghanistan is a “sign of hope” for a return to normalcy, but concerns exist about insecurity in the country and a “surge in civilian casualties, particularly of the religious minorities.”

Human Rights Watch said in March that insurgent groups in Afghanistan have increased attacks against minorities.

A woman with a girl walks past the site of a car bomb blast that targeted schoolgirls in Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2021…
A woman with a girl walks past the site of a car bomb blast that targeted schoolgirls in Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2021.

Last month, a bombing outside a high school west of Kabul, where mainly Hazara Shiite Muslim minority live, killed at least 80 people, mostly schoolgirls, and injured scores. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.

Afghan officials blamed the Taliban, who have rejected any involvement in that particular bombing despite increasing attacks in areas controlled by the Afghan government.

Peace talks

Meanwhile, the Taliban said Wednesday that its negotiators met with their Afghan government counterparts on Tuesday in Doha.

Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, tweeted that the teams discussed “accelerating the Afghan negotiations and the topics of the [intra-Afghan talks] agenda.”

No progress has been reported in the intra-Afghan talks that started in September 12 in Doha.

Basant Singh, 55, who has been living for the past 27 years in India, said that he is “still hopeful for a peaceful resolution of the war in Afghanistan.”

Basant Singh, who fled his home in the eastern city of Khost in 1991 and left Afghanistan in 1992 because of the civil war, said that he hopes “peace would come to Afghanistan so that all [Hindus and Sikhs] would return to their country and live in peace and happiness.”

“I want to spend the rest of my life there,” he said.

VOA’s Afghanistan Service reporter Ibrahim Rahimi contributed to this story from Khost.

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On 6/14/2021 at 8:22 AM, Premi5 said:

Afghan Hindus, Sikhs in Limbo While Stuck in India

 

WASHINGTON - Afghan Hindus and Sikhs who moved to India because of deteriorating security in their country are struggling with poor living conditions, and some families have even returned to Afghanistan.

“We are in a situation that we have no option,” said Singh, a 24-year-old Sikh who lost his father, nephew and sister-in-law in a March 2020 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar area that killed 25 people. “We cannot go to Afghanistan, and we are stuck in India. We have not been relocated to the U.S. or Canada as we were promised.”

In the aftermath of the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, about 200 Hindu and Sikh families left for India — some on special visas — in hopes of being relocated to a third country.

As reported by The Associated Press, members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu diaspora — most of them based in Canada and Europe — agreed in August to sponsor the exodus to India, which is home to large Hindu and Sikh communities. 

Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack to a Sikh temple in Kabul on March 25, 2020. - The Islamic…
Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack to a Sikh temple in Kabul on March 25, 2020.

Several Canadian legislators also called for a program to grant Afghan Sikhs and Hindus special refugee status, but VOA could not verify whether any were successfully transferred to North America as a result.

Last month about 40 Hindu and Sikh families returned to Afghanistan after staying in India for some nine months.

Singh, who asked that his full name not be used, said that living in India was hard because “one cannot find a job, and we have no financial support.”

Sarmeet Singh, 25, an Afghan Sikh who has been living in India since his father was assassinated in Herat, Afghanistan, two years ago, said the COVID-19 lockdown has made finding work “even more difficult.”

Sarmeet, who has a 4-year-old daughter, said if circumstances don’t change, he’ll be forced to return despite the risk of violence.

“If there are no suicide attacks and targeted killings, I and other Sikhs would return to our home country,” Sarmeet told VOA.

An Afghan Sikh boy mourns the victims who were killed during yesterday's attack at Sikh religious complex during a funeral in…
An Afghan Sikh boy mourns the victims who were killed during an attack at Sikh religious complex during a funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2020.

‘Sign of hope’

Once home to thriving Sikh and Hindu minorities, Afghanistan has seen these communities shrink from an estimated 250,000 in the 1980s to less than 1,000 as a result of ongoing warfare and targeted discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation.

The ongoing withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, which is already more than 50% complete, has triggered a recent surge of violence.

Dawa Khan Menapal, director of the Kabul-based Government Media and Information Center, said that the Afghan government is committed to providing security to the Hindu and Sikh communities.

“We have addressed their concerns. We have taken measures for their safety,” Menapal said, adding that some Hindu and Sikh families have recently returned to Afghanistan.

Asadullah Yusufi, a commissioner at Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said that the return of dozens of Hindu and Sikh families to Afghanistan is a “sign of hope” for a return to normalcy, but concerns exist about insecurity in the country and a “surge in civilian casualties, particularly of the religious minorities.”

Human Rights Watch said in March that insurgent groups in Afghanistan have increased attacks against minorities.

A woman with a girl walks past the site of a car bomb blast that targeted schoolgirls in Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2021…
A woman with a girl walks past the site of a car bomb blast that targeted schoolgirls in Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2021.

Last month, a bombing outside a high school west of Kabul, where mainly Hazara Shiite Muslim minority live, killed at least 80 people, mostly schoolgirls, and injured scores. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.

Afghan officials blamed the Taliban, who have rejected any involvement in that particular bombing despite increasing attacks in areas controlled by the Afghan government.

Peace talks

Meanwhile, the Taliban said Wednesday that its negotiators met with their Afghan government counterparts on Tuesday in Doha.

Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, tweeted that the teams discussed “accelerating the Afghan negotiations and the topics of the [intra-Afghan talks] agenda.”

No progress has been reported in the intra-Afghan talks that started in September 12 in Doha.

Basant Singh, 55, who has been living for the past 27 years in India, said that he is “still hopeful for a peaceful resolution of the war in Afghanistan.”

Basant Singh, who fled his home in the eastern city of Khost in 1991 and left Afghanistan in 1992 because of the civil war, said that he hopes “peace would come to Afghanistan so that all [Hindus and Sikhs] would return to their country and live in peace and happiness.”

“I want to spend the rest of my life there,” he said.

VOA’s Afghanistan Service reporter Ibrahim Rahimi contributed to this story from Khost.

This does not set a good presedence for the Afghan Sikh and Hindu community.

Because the next time there is an atrocity in Afghanistan and these Sikhs and Hindus ask for help then India will turn their backs on them.

 

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On 6/15/2021 at 5:39 PM, Ranjeet01 said:

This does not set a good presedence for the Afghan Sikh and Hindu community.

Because the next time there is an atrocity in Afghanistan and these Sikhs and Hindus ask for help then India will turn their backs on them.

 

Surprised India would not want to help Hindus

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  • 7 months later...
6 hours ago, Premi5 said:

https://unitedsikhs.org/mexico-offers-asylum-to-141-afghan-minority-refugees/

afghan.jpg

First group of refugees departing Delhi International Airport for Abu Dhabi on the way to Mexico City

 

We are pleased to announce after many months of intense legal advocacy by UNITED SIKHS International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy team, we have secured asylum for 141 preselected Afghan minority refugees displaced by the conflict in Afghanistan.

The government of Mexico has agreed to offer asylum to Afghan minority refugees (Sikhs & Hindus) on humanitarian grounds. A pilot batch of Afghan refugees arrived in Mexico City yesterday. In fact the Mexican Consul in Abu Dhabi at the request of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs came to Dubai Airport to receive them, check on them and ensure everything was seamless before their next step of the long journey to Mexico city.

afghan2.jpeg

A Pilot Batch of Afghan Refugees arrives at Mexico City International Airport

 

Our team of local volunteers and two representatives from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present to receive and facilitate the arrival formalities for the first group of refugees in Mexico City.

This historic event was only possible with the support of our donors, the dedication of our volunteers and the grace of the almighty.

afghan3.jpeg

UNITED SIKHS volunteers along with representatives from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs receive Afghan Refugees at Mexico City International Airport

 

This historic event was only possible with the support of our donors, the dedication of our volunteers and the grace of the almighty.

We are now consistently and actively working to bring the next group of refugees to Mexico. We need your urgent support to make sure all 141 refugees are resettled safely and securely in Mexico.

Your donations will help with the following critical costs

  • Travel costs approximately $2000/refugee.

  • First 3 months living expenses in Mexico

  • Language & Vocational training

  • 2 Full time Resettlement Liaison officers for supporting new refugees in Mexico.

We know with your support we can undertake this mission to resettle and give these Afghan refugees a chance for a safe and secure future.

We need to raise $500,000 to bring all the 141 Afghan refugees to Mexico in the coming weeks.

Donate at our Afghan Mission page 

afghan4.png

Temporary lodging in Mexico City for first group of refugees

 

We will send regular updates in the coming days and weeks as these refugees take the long awaited journey towards a new future with your generous support.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of the UNITED SIKHS team!

Gurvinder Singh

International Humanitarian Aid Director

Recognize the Human Race as One

The interesting thing here is that even with the much hyped Sikh influence in Canadian politics, while Canada has been accepting Afghan Muslim refugees by the thousands very few Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have been accepted. 

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Political bystanders sans voting rights, Sikh, Hindu refugees watch drama unfold

Only promises, no citizenship for them

image.png.b0b41109030b9b079b769f94e513aa5e.pngThe families living in Amritsar said they were at the mercy of intelligence agencies and other authorities, who ask them to get their refugee status renewed every year.

 

Still waiting to become Indian citizens, refugee Sikh and Hindu families from Afghanistan and Pakistan are just political bystanders in the Punjab poll process. Several such families reside in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and even Delhi. Many among them who spoke to The Indian Express said they were tired of making appeals to political parties to give them citizenship.

“Don’t talk about it. There is no use of making any demand. We are tired now,” said Ajitpal Singh, owner of Khalsa Tyre at Jahajhgarh market when asked if the Afghan refugees had any hope from the political parties to get them citizenship.

“Political parties don’t do anything for their voters. We don’t even have votes,” he said.

The families living in Amritsar said they were at the mercy of intelligence agencies and other authorities, who ask them to get their refugee status renewed every year. And then there is the constant fear of being asked to leave, apart from limited legal rights as compared to Indian citizens.

The BJP-led Union government had passed CAA in December 2019, however, Congress government in Punjab had passed resolution against Citizenship Amendment Act in January 2020.

As CM, Capt Amarinder Singh had vowed to fight tooth and nail against the CAA. After forming a new party and entering into an alliance with the BJP, he hasn’t spoken on the issue.

After passing of CAA, local BJP unit had mobalised Hindu and Sikh families migrated from the Afghanistan and Pakistan and arranged their meeting with then Amritsar DC Shiv Dular Singh in 2020.

Families had requested DC to give them benefit of new law as soon as possible. However, nothing has happened yet for these families.

Another refugee Surjit Singh said, “There are around seven Afghan families in Amritsar and 25 Pakistan Sikh families. We all had applied under the old provision in law to get citizenship. But that was like an impossible law. Under old law, we were able to apply for citizenship only after 11 years of living as refugees. Then there was long process to apply for citizenship. I don’t know anyone who got citizenship under old law though they were eligible. We all are eligible under the new law.”

It is interesting that despite running campaign to justify CAA, the state BJP has not made any effort to bring the benefits of law to those who actually faced religious prosecution.

On why Hindus and Sikh refugees in Punjab and Delhi have failed to get any benefit of CAA so far, BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, “Rules are being framed under the law and these families will get citizenship as soon as rules are framed.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/amritsar/political-bystanders-sans-voting-rights-sikh-hindu-refugees-watch-drama-unfold-7775828/

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2343634/sikh-trader-injured-while-resisting-robbery-bid-in-peshawar

 

Sikh trader injured while resisting robbery bid in Peshawar

Members of minority community gathered outside Lady Reading Hospital in large numbers to protest against the incident


Ehtesham KhanFebruary 15, 2022
 
PESHAWAR:

The Sikh community protested on Tuesday after a trader belonging to the minority community was shot at after he resisted a robbery attempt at a hakim’s shop situated at Scheme Chowk in Peshawar.

The robber after stealing the cash and other valuables from the shop was fleeing the crime scene when Pepinder Singh raised hue and cry, drawing attention of the locals who caught the robber and handed over the accused to police.

However, Singh suffered bullet injuries and was rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital in critical condition. The Sikh community leaders also gathered outside the hospital in large numbers.

In a similar incident a few years ago, Charan Jait Singh, a Sikh social leader was also shot dead by unidentified assailants inside the shop within the limits of Badaber police station.

Following the incident, his family left the provincial capital.

Likewise, Dr Satnam Singh, a member of the Sikh community, associated with NGO Wisdom was also killed by unidentified assailants last year.

The incident was termed terrorism, and an FIR of the killing was also registered. However, no progress has been made in the case yet.

Also read: Sikh traders complain of calls from extortionists

Referring to the recent attacks on the Sikh community, Sikh leader Dr Sahib Singh said that Pepinder Singh was targeted but fortunately he survived the attack and his condition is out of danger after being shot in the feet.

SP Saddar Circle Farhan told The Express Tribune that as soon as the information was received about the incident, the police immediately reached the spot and detained the accused.

He said a passer-by has also sustained injuries in the incident. However, it is too early to say why the accused opened fire on Pepinder Singh, he added.

According to the senior police official, the accused has been identified as Ahmad, a resident of Peshawar.

Ahmed is also a drug addict and had remained involved in other criminal activities. Last year, traders belonging to Sikh community were deprived of their mobile phones worth around Rs3 million by robbers but no recovery has been made despite the passage of one year.

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  • 6 months later...

 

Attacked at home, Afghan Sikhs find community in New York

 

Afghan Sikh family

Amandeep Singh, 12, stands with his family at Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island, a Sikh gurdwara. An estimated 200 Afghan Sikhs live in Long Island.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)
BY DEEPA BHARATH
ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUG. 30, 2022 1:02 PM PT

Kulwinder Singh Soni’s voice quavered as he recounted the day in March 2020 when an Islamic State gunman burst into a Sikh prayer hall in Kabul, hurling grenades and firing assault rifles. Among the 25 people killed were Soni’s father, sister-in-law and 4-year-old niece.

Police later warned the family not to attend their funerals because terrorists had planted land mines outside the temple. They were ultimately able to attend, but only after officers did a sweep and cleared them to enter the shrine.

“That’s when we decided we needed to leave Afghanistan,” Soni said. “There was absolutely no future for our family in that country.”

After a two-year struggle to make an exit, including nearly a year under restored rule of the fundamentalist Taliban group, Soni and 12 family members including his mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, arrived in the United States in July.

They are settling in Hicksville, on New York’s Long Island, a community that has come to be a growing refuge for not only Afghan Sikhs but also Hindus, both of them religious minorities that have increasingly suffered discrimination and persecution in their home country.

Sikhs and Hindus make up only a tiny fraction of the population of Afghanistan, which is almost entirely Muslim. Under the Taliban in the late 1990s, they were asked to identify themselves by wearing yellow armbands or badges, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and in recent years they have been repeatedly targeted by extremists.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-08-30/attacked-at-home-afghan-sikhs-find-community-in-new-york

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