A large number of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs say their social problems have multiplied and they face serious difficulty.
A lot of Sikhs while participating in their religious festive Vaisakhi complained that despite a guarantee for the safeguard of their religious and social rights in the Afghan Constitution and laws, the behavior of their Muslim countrymen are not satisfactory.
Anarkali Honaryar, an Afghan Sikh woman and member of Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan, maintains that due to these reasons the migration of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus abroad has not stopped yet.
Ms. Honaryar who had taken part in the Vaisakhi celebrations said, “Compared to previous years, we face more problems now. Hindus and Sikhs are abandoning Afghanistan in greater and greater numbers nowadays.”
Ms. Honaryar understands that lack of social security for the religious minorities is the main reason for the migration of Hindus and Sikhs. She further said, “Even in Kabul a Sikh can’t travel at night without being persecuted” Ms. Honaryar says currently tens of thousands of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus live in India, Pakistan, UAE and other countries but they haven’t been able to return home.
In the same way, Avtar Singh a well-known Sikh figure in Afghanistan and a member of Afghan Senate (Misharano Jirga) claimed that before the factional wars more than 200,000 Hindu and Sikh families lived in Afghanistan but now their number has reduced to merely 2000 families. He maintained that the majority of Sikhs and Hindus migrated in the 1990s.
According to this Sikh politician although in the last years their social life has improved, there still exists numerous problems for these religious minorities. Mr. Avatar Singh complained that the Sikh religious sites which had been destroyed during the 90’s civil war haven’t yet been restored or reconstructed.
Mr. Singh further said that Sikhs and Hindus even don’t have a proper site or place for burning their dead bodies, which is one of their religious obligations. He said there’s a site in Kabul but the Muslim residents are strongly oppose the burning of dead bodies, therefore, police protection should be provided there.
Another problem that causes headache to Sikh parents is the education of their children. Mr. Singh says they send their children to schools but due to lingual and religious differences their children face numerous problems because of improper attitudes of Muslim children. He remembered that in the past there used to be exclusive schools for the children of Sikhs and Hindus where Sikh and Hindu children were taught in their Native Punjabi language. He lamented that now only in two provinces namely Helmand and Ghazni they have such special schools and no where else in Afghanistan. Gurumeet Singh, a young Afghan Sikh student in Kabul said that he and his Sikh classmates receive inappropriate treatments from their Muslim classmates.
Mr. Singh criticized the government of not having made it feasible for the Sikh Afghans to seek jobs in the government sector and added that presently no Sikh or Hindu is a government employee. However, Anarkali Honaryar, the Sikh member of Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan maintained that this problem is all due to the [difference in] traditions that prvent Sikhs and Hindus from seeking jobs in the government institutions.
Commenting on the commemoration of Vaisakhi in Afghanistan Avtar Singh said, “Though we haven’t seen any big hurdles in commemorating our religious festivals, the pomp and show that used to exist once is no more there.”
Vaisakhi was celebrated in Kabul’s “Karta-e-Parwan” locality in which hundreds of Sikh men and women participated.