Ground Report | New Delhi: What does Taliban rule mean for Hindus; People of Sikh and Hindu communities, who have left their homes from different parts of Afghanistan, have been forced to take shelter for weeks in Dasmesh’s father gurdwara in Parwan, near Kabul. The lives of the country’s religious minorities have also been turned upside down since the fall of the civil government in Afghanistan last month and the Taliban taking power in a country ravaged by war and violence.
At present, there are about 250 Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan. Due to the suicide bombing near Kabul airport, around 140 people could not enter the airport, from where they were to take the evacuation flight of the Indian Army. Flights from the airport are currently closed under the Talibani regime. In such a situation, these minorities see their future in turmoil in the extremist Islamic regime.
What does Taliban rule mean for Hindus
According to the report of DW, Sikhs and Hindus fleeing Afghanistan hope to start a new life, a better and stable life, and they also hope that they will be able to make a better future for their children. 29-year-old Pooja Kaur Matta was one of those children whose parents decided to leave Afghanistan and opened up a whole new world of opportunities for her. Today she wants to encourage dialogues about her community.
But apart from the Sikhs and Hindus who have left Afghanistan in large numbers, there are also some families who have decided to stay in the country. They want to live there like the watchers of their gurudwaras and temples. For him, that is his only legacy. Pooja Kaur Matta says, ‘We don’t have a home. In Afghanistan, people call us Indians, in India we are called Afghans.’
“We just want a safe haven where we can live our lives fearlessly. We need a place where we are not oppressed, free to follow our religion, follow our customs, rituals, work, and our children. To nurture and grow up.’
Fear of isolation and persecution
Despite years of systematic and institutional discrimination, minorities were in the hope that some equal rights would be achieved if a civilian government was in place. But this hope too was shattered after two massive attacks in 2018 and 2020. Afghan MP Narendra Khalsa’s father was killed in a suicide bombing earlier and at least 25 Sikh pilgrims were killed in the attack on the Gurdwara in 2020.
A local gang affiliated with the ‘Islamic State’ faction, the ‘Islamic State Khorasan’ (IS-K), claimed responsibility for both attacks. The gang was also responsible for the recent suicide bombing at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport in which at least 182 people lost their lives. Under the new Taliban regime, Sikhs and Hindus fear being pushed into an era where they will be forced to wear yellow tags to mark themselves as non-Muslims.
Pooja Kaur says, ‘Sikhs and Hindus are targeted because of their religions. A generation of children could not see the face of the school for fear of persecution. They were not even allowed to bury their loved ones and stoned them. Used to go.’ Home of course gives a sense of permanence but these communities have long ago lost this sense.