Hindus, Sikhs in Afghanistan feel neglected, discriminated

Kabul - Frustrated at being discriminated in their home country, Hindus and Sikhs here feel they have been treated “like a football” between India and Afghanistan, as they hope the Indian government will bail them out.

Seeing followers of religions other than Islam is a rare sight here but some Sikhs and Hindus who have been living here for generations have kept alive their traditions and faith but life has not been easy for them.

They are Afghanis but their survival is under threat hence they want India to recognise them and provide them opportunities to work and settle within their community in India.

“Our forefathers came here many years ago and dominated economy but situation for us has now worsened and we are facing very hard time, harassment and discrimination in daily life from the people here. We have no job opportunity, no work, no education for children, no authority and we live in a terrifying situation,” Rajendra Singh, a Sikh man who is a herb trader, told PTI.

“Our children face discrimination in education. They cannot play outside the home. We are poor people and cannot afford private education. I want my children to be educated so I managed to go to India two years back but the experience was bitter and we were forced to come back,” he said.

Singh, who lives in a rented accommodation with three other Hindu families, said that local government does not help them and the Indian government also does not recognise them, leaving him with an uncertain future.

“We are like a football between India and Afghanistan. India says you are Afghani and Afghanistan also questions our existence here. Now our only hope is from the government of India because our forefathers came from there,” a seemingly frustrated Singh said.

Indira Kaur, a mother of three children, said, “People here disrespect and want us to adopt Islam that we cannot do. They harass us and sometime forcibly take away our children, saying the kids belong to them. We are completely unsafe.”

Kaur said she went to India in the hope of good days and bought school bags and books for her children but her dream was shattered when they were compelled by Indian authorities to leave the country in a few months.

She and other women grow vegetables inside the rented campus so that they can avoid going outside.