Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers…reports Sanketh Pathak
Sikhs continue to move into India as attacks on minority communities reportedly increased in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in 2021.
On August 3, a group of 30 Sikhs from Afghanistan arrived India.
Several Sikh families who arrived from Afghanistan since 2021 have been accommodated in Guru Arjun Dev Gurdwara in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar, and are being assisted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Many of them were brought from Kabul to Delhi in private planes of Afghanistan’s Kam Airlines.
At present, arrangements have been made for everyone to stay by the Gurdwara committee. Most of them are Sikhs, who have been living in Afghanistan for many generations and have arrived to India leaving everything behind for the first time.
IANS visited the Gurdwara here and met some Sikh refugees to know how they left their homes, businesses and arrived to India to save their lives.
Dodged the Taliban by pretending to treat the child
Taran Singh, who is 32-year-old, lived with his family in Jalalabad area of Afghanistan since childhood. Taran used to run a medicine shop. When the Gurudwara in Kabul was attacked and many Sikhs were killed, he also started worrying about his family. Talking to IANS, Taran Singh said that the Taliban were not allowing him to go to India.
Somehow, he hired a car and left for Kabul with his family and children. On the way, when Talibani authorities asked him the reason for leaving, he told them that his child was ill and had to go to India for treatment. In this way, Taran Singh reached India from Kabul. He is happy to reach Delhi, but he is also sad to have lost his home and shop. Although he says that now he will never go back to Afghanistan.
Harjit Kaur’s brother and sister still stuck in Afghanistan
Harjeet Kaur (30) reached Delhi on August 3 with her husband and three children. Harjeet says that since the time the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, gunmen frequently visited them and use to scare them off. Her concern for her children forced Harjeet to leave Afghanistan. She arrived here safely with eight members of her family, but her one brother, sister-in-law and sister are still in Afghanistan. Due to non-availability of visa and some other difficulties, they could not come to India. Harjeet hopes that soon the rest of his family members will also be able to reach India.
Gurjit Kaur came to India with only two pairs of clothes
Gurjit Kaur (35) is one of the lucky ones who moved to Delhi a few months back. Gurjeet told IANS that she lived near the gurdwara in Kabul, which was targeted recently. After a bomb exploded near her house, she started worrying about her life and decided to go to India. Gurjit, the mother of five children, came to Delhi in a hurry with only two pairs of clothes. She says that she used to run a medicine shop and was born in Afghanistan. Coming to India for the first time, she now lives with her husband in New Mahavir Nagar area of Delhi, leaving behind her house, shop equipment, everything. The scenes of violence against Sikhs in Afghanistan are still fresh in Gurjit’s eyes. She also says that now she will never go back to Afghanistan.
SGPC is taking care
Surinder Pal Singh, member of SGPC and head of Sikh Mission Delhi, told IANS, “We have welcomed the Sikh brothers who have arrived from Afghanistan. The work of rehabilitation and other cooperation of these people is also being done by the committee. There are still about 110 Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan, out of which 61 people’s e-visas have been suspended.”
Since the the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, religious minorities, including the Sikh community, have been reportedly targeted in large numbers. This is the reason, with the support of SGPC and Centre, Afghan minorities, Sikh community and Hindus are being brought to India.
On July 14 also, a batch of 21 Sikhs was brought to India by private ‘Kam’ airlines of Afghanistan.
According to the information, there were about 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan by 2020, but many people left Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in August 2021.
Afghanistan’s former Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Saturday blamed Pakistani agencies for being involved in at least two assassination plots against him.
Taking to Twitter he said that 60 plus people were killed in those complex attacks.
“Well, Pakistani agencies were involved in at least two assassination plots against me. Tragically some 60-plus people were killed in those complex attacks,” tweeted Saleh.
He also targeted the Pakistan Army which has started to intensify cyber-terrorism by requesting Twitter to ban him from social media platforms.
“Now the GHQ hz started to intensify cyber terrorism too. The puppet Talib junta in Kabul hasn’t satisfied their ego yet,” tweeted Saleh.
The Afghan resistant leader shared a letter from Twitter that divulged a request from Pakistani law enforcement.
“Hello @AmrullahSaleh2, In the interest of transparency, we are writing to inform you that Twitter has received a request from Pakistani Law Enforcement regarding your Twitter account, @Amrullah5aleh2, that claims the following content violates the law(s) of Pakistan,” read the letter.
However, Twitter declined to take any action against Saleh on the reported content.
“As Twitter strongly believes in defending and respecting the voice of the users, it is our policy to notify our users if we receive a legal request from an authorized entity (such as law enforcement or a government agency) to remove content from their account. We provide notice whether or not the user lives in the country where the request originated,” added the letter.
The social media site suggested Saleh take legal counsel and challenge the request in court, by contacting relevant civil society organizations, voluntarily deleting the content (if applicable), or finding some other resolution.
“We understand that receiving this type of notice can be an unsettling experience. While Twitter is not able to provide legal advice, we want you to have an opportunity to evaluate the request and, if you wish, take appropriate action to protect your interests,” read the letter.
Back in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report said Taliban security forces in northern Afghanistan’s Panjshir province have unlawfully detained and tortured residents accused of association with an opposition armed group.
Since mid-May 2022, fighting has escalated in the province as National Resistance Front (NRF) forces have attacked Taliban units and checkpoints. The Taliban have responded by deploying to the province thousands of fighters, who have carried out search operations targeting communities they allege are supporting the NRF.
During search operations in other provinces, Taliban forces have committed summary executions and enforced disappearances of captured fighters and other detainees, which are war crimes.
“Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Taliban’s longstanding failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks put more civilians at risk.”
Former detainees in early June reported that Taliban security forces detained about 80 residents in Panjshir’s Khenj district and beat them to compel them to provide information about the NRF, according to HRW. After several days, the
Taliban released 70, but have continued to hold 10 people whose relatives they accuse of being members of the group, a form of collective punishment.
Former detainees said the district jail held nearly 100 others who have alleged links to the NRF. None had access to their families or lawyers. Others have been held in informal detention facilities. (ANI)
The Taliban once again denounced the US attack on Kabul as a violation of Afghan airspace and against international norms…reports Asian Lite News
The caretaker Taliban administration in Afghanistan has said that the group was uninformed of Ayman al-Zawahiris “arrival and stay” in Kabul, although it is uncertain whether the Taliban have explicitly acknowledged or denied the American assertion that the al-Qaeda chief has been killed, media reports said.
In a statement released on Thursday, senior Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has instructed its intelligence agencies to conduct thorough and comprehensive probe into the various aspects of this case, Khaama Press reported.
According to the Taliban spokesman, no country, including the United States, is under threat from Afghanistan.
He said the Taliban intend to put the Doha Agreement into effect and that its violations has to stop.
The Taliban once again denounced the US attack on Kabul as a violation of Afghan airspace and against international norms and warned that the US will be held responsible for the consequences of such attacks, if repeated.
On the other hand, several top American officials, including Zalmay Khalilzad, claimed that some Taliban leaders were aware of Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul.
The death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the eyes of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has strengthened global security.
By “hosting and sheltering” the al-Qaeda chief in Kabul, the Taliban administration in Afghanistan violated its commitments to the international community, according to Blinken.
According to Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to US President Joe Biden, they are in contact with the Taliban to find out whether the Taliban sheltered al-Zawahiri, Khaama Press reported.
The Taliban have officially pledged to renounce ties with terrorist organisations and prohibit the use of Afghan soil against other countries in the pact it signed with the United States in Doha in February 2020.
Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has borne their airfare…reports Asian Lite News
At least 30 Afghan Sikhs, including men, women, and children, are scheduled to arrive in Delhi from Kabul on Wednesday as evacuation of Afghan minorities to India continues in the wake of rising religious persecution in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
These Afghan nationals left from Kabul on board Kam Air Flight number 4401.
Indian World Forum president Puneet Singh Chandok informed that still there were 110 Sikhs left in Afghanistan while 61 e-visa applications were pending with the Indian government.
Earlier, 32 Afghan Sikhs were evacuated from Kabul.
Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has borne their airfare.
He informed that after landing at Delhi, the evacuees would proceed towards Gurdwara Sri Guru Arjan Dev, Tilak Nagar, New Delhi.
“They are likely to be rehabilitated by the World Punjabi Organisation, Sobti Foundation, and other social organisations,” said Chandok.
Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan are being continuously attacked by different terrorist organisations and in the past year, the number of attacks has increased leaving the community petrified.
Kabul’s Gurdwara Kart-e-Parwan has repeatedly been vandalised and bombed making their (Sikhs) stay unsafe in Afghanstian.
Al-Zawahiri was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired at him from a CIA-run drone while he was on the balcony of a house in Kabul where he had been staying with his family…reports YASHWANT RAJ
The US killed top Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Afghanistan over the weekend dealing the terrorist group a major blow, confirms President Joe Biden.
Al-Zawahiri had overseen the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001, that killed 2,977 people, along with Osama bin-Laden, who was killed by the US in 2011 in Pakistan.
Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian by birth who had trained to be a medical doctor, had a US reward of $25 million for information leading to his capture. The US holds him responsible also for the bombing of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and on its naval ship USS Cole in 2000.
He also had a long history of baiting and threatening India. Last April, he praised an Indian student who stood up against efforts to prevent Muslim women from wearing hijab. The next month, in May, he called the abrogation of Article 370 a “slam” for Muslims.
Al-Zawahiri was killed by two Hellfire missiles fired at him from a CIA-run drone while he was on the balcony of a house in Kabul where he had been staying with his family. No members of his family or other civilians were wounded or killed in the strike, according to US officials who briefed reporters.
President Biden said in an address to the nation, and perhaps the world, that US intelligence had tracked the Al Qaeda leader to Afghanistan early in the year and he gave the go ahead to the operation to kill al-Zawahiri a week ago on July 25. Officials said Biden reviewed a model of the house early in July to make sure there were no collateral casualties.
“Our intelligence community located Zawahiri earlier this year,” Biden, who is dealing with “rebound positivity” of Covid-19, said in his address.
“He had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family. After carefully considering clear and convincing evidence of his location, I authorised a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.”
Biden added: “This mission was carefully planned, rigorously minimising the risk of harm to other civilians. And one week ago, after being advised the conditions were optimal, I gave the final approval to go get him and the mission was a success.”
The US studied Zawahiri’s behaviour and that of his family members for weeks — the women in the family took circuitous routes from and to home to avoid trackers, for instance — to reduce the possibility of hitting others.
The strike came around a year after the US left Afghanistan, which raised questions about its ability to carry out counter-terrorism operation there. The Biden administration had sought to allay such concerns and fears saying it will retain “over-the-horizon” capability from neighbouring countries.
Al-Zawahiri’s most spectacular operations were against the US, but he had India in his crosshairs as well. In April, he came out in support of Muskan Khan, an Indian muslim student who stood up to those trying to prevent Muslim women from wearing hijab to educational institutions.
“May Allah reward her for showing a moral lesson to sisters plagued by an inferiority complex via-a-vis the decadent Western world,” al-Zawahiri said in a video released in April.
A month later in May, he opposed the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Article 370, which ascribed special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“When the Hindu government of India took the infamous decision to annex Kashmir, it was the slap on the faces of the governments ruling over Muslim lands,” he said in a video.
He added: “The decision was taken with full confidence in the support that India enjoys from international criminals and the ineptitude of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, the de facto rulers of Pakistan.”
While thanking the international community for sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the DBA said that the cash aid would be spent transparently…reports Asian Lite News
Afghanistan received a fresh batch of $40 million cash in humanitarian aid and deposited at one of the country’s commercial banks, the central bank said in a statement on Monday.
“As part of a series of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, $40 million in cash arrived in Kabul yesterday (July 31) and was transferred to the Afghanistan International Bank,” Da Afghanistan Bank (DBA) said.
While thanking the international community for sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the DBA said that the cash aid would be spent transparently.
The last tranche of cash provided to Afghanistan as humanitarian aid was $40 million, which helped the war-torn country increase foreign exchange reserves to prevent a possible economic collapse
Both sides accused the other of opening fire first during Sunday’s exchange of fire…reports Asian Lite News
One person has been killed and another was injured during clashes between Taliban members and Iranian border guards on Sunday, according to media reports.
“We have one killed and one wounded; the cause of the clash is not clear yet,” the police spokesperson of the Nimroze province Bahram Haqmal said, TRT World reported.
Both sides accused the other of opening fire first during Sunday’s exchange of fire.
Meysam Barazandeh, governor of Iran’s Hirmand county was quoted as saying by Iranian media said: “There was a clash between the border guards of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban forces.”
Afghan and Iranian border forces have faced each other several times in Nimroz and Herat provinces since the Islamic Emirate took power in Afghanistan last year.
In April, an Afghan delegation led by the Taliban’s acting minister of refugees and repatriations said that they are likely to visit Iran’s capital Tehran to hold talks over refugee-related challenges and the border tension.
“We are trying to visit Iran to talk about all the problems that Afghans are struggling with there; we hope we can talk and solve the problems,” said Khalilurahman Haqqani, acting minister of refugee and repatriations, according to TOLOnews.
However, at a time when the price of petrol and gasoline have increased at an unprecedented rate in Afghanistan, the Taliban has signed a deal with an Iranian firm to purchase 350,000 tonnes of oil, media reports said citing the Taliban’s Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry in a statement has said that the Afghan delegation who was on its visit to Iran has entered into a contract with an Iranian firm to purchase 350,000 tonnes of oil from the neighbouring country of Iran.
Inflation due to the war in Ukraine has become a major cause of concern for many countries. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has caused constant unrest and a severe food crunch in the country with the newest one emerging in the form of soaring food and oil prices. (ANI)
The FCDO admitted that internal communication mistakes caused some staff to believe that Johnson had intervened…reports Asian Lite News
The government has acknowledged mistakes and admitted regrets over the evacuation of animal charity workers from Afghanistan.
As Taliban forces approached Kabul last August, Nowzad charity chief Pen Farthing organized an evacuation of dogs from the Afghan capital after appealing directly to the UK government.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office was questioned afterward over the role that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had played in the reallocation of evacuation resources. The government denied that he had personally ordered the case to be prioritized.
However, the Foreign Affairs Committee claimed earlier this year that several senior officials believed that Johnson intervened in the case to secure the evacuation, and that there was no “plausible alternative explanation.”
The FAC’s report said that despite failing to meet the official criteria for evacuation, Nowzad charity employees were granted aircraft seats “at the last minute after a mysterious intervention from elsewhere in government.” However, Nowzad staff eventually ended up traveling to Pakistan.
The FCDO admitted that internal communication mistakes caused some staff to believe that Johnson had intervened.
A spokesperson said: “The government acknowledges again that the way the decision to call forward Nowzad staff for evacuation was made was exceptional. It agrees that, in this particular case, more care should have been taken within the FCDO in how the decision was communicated to staff.
“It acknowledges again that an error in the way the decision was communicated internally left some FCDO staff believing that the prime minister had made the decision.
“The FCDO agrees with the committee on the importance of accurate record keeping, even in a complex, fast-moving crisis such as this.”
“$172 million is urgently needed to provide 150,000 metric tons of foodstuffs before winter in remote areas, in the areas where roads are being blocked by the first snow of the year,” said official…reports Asian Lite News
The World Food Organization (WFP) in Afghanistan said it is facing a shortage of funds to continue humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.
WFP’s spokesman in Afghanistan, Waheedullah Amani said that the Organization needs more than $900 million for the next six months of operations, reports TOLO News.
He said that Organization has helped nearly 19 million Afghans since the start of 2022 and the aid includes foodstuffs and cash.
“$172 million is urgently needed to provide 150,000 metric tons of foodstuffs before winter in remote areas, in the areas where roads are being blocked by the first snow of the year,” Amani said.
Meanwhile, residents of the capital city of Kabul complained about the lack of transparency in aid organizations.
“They took my name and ID card in every round of aid, but the community leader provided it to his relatives. I haven’t received even one grain of rice,” said Sikandar, a resident of Kabul.
“The poor people are destroyed. There is no aid to reach the poor,” said Ahmashah, a resident of Kabul.
Some economists believe that the aid has not had a positive impact on the life of the citizens.
“Lacking a better assessment of the situation and the recognition of truly needy people, as well as lacking monitoring for transparency, and the high administrative and logistics expenses of the aid organizations, means that the aid will not be effective,” said Shakir Yaqobi, an economist.