‘No future for us,’ say Afghan Sikhs after temple attack

A dozen Afghan Sikhs gathered on Monday in a room behind the charred ruins of their temple in Kabul, hoping to be quickly evacuated after eventually surrendering to the country where they were born.

“It simply came to our notice then. I have lost all hope, ”said Ragbir Singh, who was injured when gunmen hit the temple on Saturday in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

“Everywhere we are threatened.”

When the Taliban seized power in August, many Sikhs were seeking refuge at the complex, living together or in family groups scattered around the building.

The Sikh community was a previous target.

In March 2020, at least 25 people were killed when gunmen hit another temple in Kabul.

And in 2018 at least 19 people, mostly Sikhs, were killed in a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Both attacks, which regularly target members of Afghan minority communities – including Shiites and Sufis, have been called for by IS.

The number of Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan had dropped to about 200 by the end of last year, compared to about half a million in the 1970s.

The majority of those who stayed were traders involved in the sale of herbal medicines and electronic goods brought from India and Pakistan.

For Manmohan Singh Sethi, who was born in Afghanistan, the temple was not only a place of worship, but a place of residence for the entire Sikh community.

Meeting as a family

“This was the main gurdwara (Sikh temple) we all had together as a family,” said Sethi, who is in his 70s.

But peace was broken on Saturday when one member of the public was killed and seven others – Singh among them – were injured in an early morning raid.

A Taliban fighter also died, in a counterattack operation launched shortly afterwards.

Gunmen were first fired at the main gate of the complex, killing a guard, before storming inside, shooting, and throwing grenades, survivors said.

A moment later a car bomb exploded outside the complex, smashing the walls and windows of nearby buildings.

When the raid began, some escaped through a back door and took refuge in nearby buildings.

In the ensuing chaos, Singh – who was on the fourth floor of the complex – fell to the ground, injuring his legs and arm.

Now, several rooms and the main prayer hall of the complex are severely damaged by bullets, grenades and a fire that swallowed an article during the raid.

The attack came days after a delegation from New Delhi visited Kabul to discuss the possibility of reopening India’s embassy.

Indian government sources told AFP in Delhi that about 100 Afghan Hindus and Sikhs were given emergency visas but Sethi said no one in the scared community was aware of the offer.

He said the community was now unsure of where to even pray for their future.

“If we all gather to perform rituals in a particular place we could face another similar incident,” he said.

“We have already been attacked three times… We cannot be careless. The latest incident has had a profound effect on us, ”said Sethi.

“Afghanistan is my home country and I never wanted to leave… but I’m leaving now.”

‘No future for us,’ say Afghan Sikhs after temple attack Source link ‘No future for us,’ say Afghan Sikhs after temple attack

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