India raises concerns on Taliban vandalizing the Gurudwara flag

By: |
August 06, 2021 7:23 PM

According to reports , the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), had urged the government of Afghanistan as well the Central government to ensure the safety of Sikhs living in that country.

“India has condemned this act. And, has reiterated its firm belief that Afghanistan’s future must be one where interest of all sections of Afghan society including women and the minorities are protected,” top sources told Financial Express Online.“India has condemned this act. And, has reiterated its firm belief that Afghanistan’s future must be one where interest of all sections of Afghan society including women and the minorities are protected,” top sources told Financial Express Online. (Representative image)

Reports from Afghanistan since morning have indicated that the Taliban which has been gaining more ground in that country has removed Nishan Sahib, a Sikh religious flag. This has been removed from the roof of a gurdwara in Chamkani area of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan.

India reacts

“India has condemned this act. And, has reiterated its firm belief that Afghanistan’s future must be one where interest of all sections of Afghan society including women and the minorities are protected,” top sources told Financial Express Online.

What is Nishan Sahib?

It is usually flown high near gurdwaras. It also signifies Sikh religious pride and identity.

About the incident

According to reports, this is a historic place of worship and is looked after by both local Sikhs and Hindus.

The Taliban commanders had recently threatened the caretaker and had forced him to take it down and tie it to a tree away from the public eye.

Why is Gurudwara Thala Sahib important?

This is the spot which has historic significance as it was visited by Sri Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikh religion.

Since the time US led forces have started leaving, India has been reaching out to various sides in that country and urging them to respect the religious minorities.

According to reports , the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), had urged the government of Afghanistan as well the Central government to ensure the safety of Sikhs living in that country.

Weekly media briefing

On Thursday (August 5, 2021), while referring to concerns about the weaker sections of people in Afghanistan, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi said “India has been supporting the people of Afghanistan and the government in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.”

Situation in Afghanistan

Taliban continues to make gains amidst heavy clashes with Afghanistan forces in several cities. As the fight intensified in Lashkargah in southern Helmand province the Afghan forces clashed with Taliban.

Taliban has so far made significant gains in large cities and provinces next to the three former Soviet `Stans’ bordering Afghanistan and these include Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And, several districts including Takhar, which is the northeastern province.

According to reports, the leaders of the Central Asian countries are meeting in Turkmenistan to assess the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as the US led forces leave that country.

UNSC & Afghanistan

Later tonight (Friday, August 6, 2021, the United Nations Security Council is going to discuss the ongoing critical situation in Afghanistan.

Expert View on the Sikhs in Afghanistan

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Indian Army veteran Col Ronnie Rajkumar, says, “The Afghan Sikhs have amalgamated into the Afghan society and are, on the whole, accepted by the locals. But having met them in Kabul, I have always found them aloof and reticent and they live sequestered lives. They are fluent in Dari and Pashto, eat the same and except for the Sijh-style turban, they are indistinguishable from the local Afghan. I feel they are living the lives of second-class citizens in Afghanistan.”

“A February 2019 study called ‘Survey of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs’ by the Porsesh Research and Studies Organisation of Afghanistan notes the harassment and discrimination the community faces on several fronts—religious, economic, security—and explains why the community has fled the country in droves. From a population of around 2.25 lakhs in the 1980s, the numbers have dwindled to around 1,200 families or 8,000 members in 2013 and around 70 to 80 families or 700 in 2020. Under the Taliban regime, the Sikhs were a persecuted minority and forced to pay the Jizya Tax. The Sikh custom of cremation of the dead was prohibited by the Taliban (this is still an ongoing issue with local Afghans who protest against cremation by Sikhs,” he says.

“Some have it that these cremation grounds are on prime estate hence land-grab appears to be one of the drivers here) hence, and cremation grounds vandalized. In addition, Sikhs were required to wear yellow patches or veils to identify themselves. The Sikhs also face a more deadly threat from the IS (K). On March 25, 2020, the IS (K) attacked a gurdwara in Kabul City killing 25 Sikh Afghans,” Col Ronnie Rajkumar who has extensive ground experience of 11 years in Afghanistan and the region explains.

In conclusion he says, “The vandalizing of the gurudwar’s flag is but a signal of more such episodes to come.”

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