By: Arimita Padam
Peace is a given for many of us. While a virus ravages our community, we do not live in fear of bombs or bullets. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for Sikhs in Afghanistan. The massacre of 25 peaceful worshippers at a Kabul Gurdwara seems like a centuries-old crime. It is incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that this happened on March 25, 2020. In this modern world, hate still seems to find away. ISIS has our Sikh brothers and sisters living in fear in a society where they are not welcome. They were not even allowed to mourn the dead - another bomb was set off at the cremation site.
This outright terrorism is not new. In Hitler-esque coercion, the Taliban forced Sikhs to wear yellow armbands so they were easily identifiable between 1996 and 2001. In the current coronavirus crisis, Afghan Sikhs are forced to live in cramped, overcrowded conditions. For them, life is a daily struggle between the fear of the IS (Islamic State) and the ever-growing biological threat.
Prejudice and persecution have prevailed in Afghanistan for long enough. Due to constant targeting, the Sikh population in Afghanistan has decreased to barely one thousand, consisting of less than 300 families. After the recent terror attacks, Afghan Sikhs are desperate to leave their homes where they have lived for generations.
Here at Nishkam TV, we have dedicated a webpage to raising awareness about this human rights issue. Age makes no difference: children as young as seven years old recognize the importance of this and have even released YouTube videos as a call to action. Each video relayed a parallel narrative: a child’s perspective on parental love and their confusion and sadness at agendas that tear families apart. You can see more on this here: https://nishkam.tv/2020/04 /03/sas/
Efforts are being made by the Indian government to evacuate the 2nd batch of nearly 180 persecuted Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan. They will fly from Kabul to Delhi, marking a massive relief for the people involved in this effort. The first batch of repatriates consisted of eleven members that landed in Delhi on July 26, 2020.
Efforts to relocate them are budding everywhere: we do not want history to look at us as a broken community that failed to answer the plea for help. Where politicians have failed, the public must intervene, and do so now.