– Persecuted Afghan Sikhs quit gurdwara Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji amid continuous threats

Chandigarh – Punjab – India, 31 March 2020. The Kabul resident Sikh families have left Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib situated in Shor Bazaar due to continuous threats being sent by the terrorist organizations. All these Sikh families have shifted to Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha situated in Karta-e-Parwan.

It is pertinent to note here that these families were looking after the day-to-day proceedings of Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji for a long time while living there.

Sharing with Sikh24, the Afghan Sikhs informed that they were looking after the historic Gurdwara Sahibans situated in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandhar, Karta-e-Parwan and Ghazni despite getting looted and murdered in routine since long.

“But now, it has become difficult for us to stay here as we are continually facing deadly attacks and threats by the terrorists,” they said while adding that no one is left in Afghanistan to look after their interests.

It may be recalled here that the Islamic State had murdered more than two dozen Sikhs in a suicidal attack carried out on March 25. Eight others had also lost lives in this deadly attack while eight others were left seriously injured.

The Tribune – Bodies of three Sikhs killed in Kabul attack to be brought to India on Monday: Harsimrat Kaur

Urges PM to facilitate relocation of Afghan Sikhs who want to settle in India

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 March 2020. Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday said bodies of three Sikhs killed in the Kabul gurdwara attack, whose families were based in India, would be brought back to the country on Monday.

She also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to facilitate the relocation of all Afghan Sikhs who wanted to leave Afghanistan and settle in India.

In a statement here, Harsimrat said the bodies of three Sikhs were being brought back to India tomorrow. He said while the families of two, Shankar Singh and Jiwan Singh were based in Ludhiana, the third Tian Singh’s family was based in Delhi.

She said while Shankar’s wife would also return with her husband’s body to Ludhiana where his six children were residing with their maternal grandparents, Jiwan’s wife and children were living in Ludhiana.

The Union minister has appealed to the Prime Minister to initiate an exercise to relocate all Afghan Sikhs who wanted to leave Afghanistan due to growing insecurity and threats to their very lives and livelihood.

She said from a population of several thousands, only around 300 to 400 Sikh families remained in Afghanistan with thousands migrating to India and elsewhere in the last more than one decade.

She also appealed to the Prime Minister to take up the issue of the safety and security of the Sikh community in Afghanistan with the latter government. “Sikhs in Afghanistan are undergoing a trauma. They are facing threats on a day to day basis.

Earlier also there have been gruesome attacks on its members including a terrorist attack in 2018 while killed 13 persons in Jalalabad. Many want to leave Afghanistan and relocate in India. This relocation should be facilitated at the earliest,” he added.

Globe Newswire – United Sikhs calls for decisive action after the massacre of 24 Sikhs in Afghanistan

International resettlement of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus may be the only viable option

New York – New York State – USA, 28 March 2020. United Sikhs is deeply saddened in the wake of Wednesday’s cowardly attack on Gurdwara Guru Har Rai in Shor Bazar, Kabul, Afghanistan which left 24 Sikhs dead and scores injured. The Sikh worshippers had gathered to pray for the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the globe.

Sadly their prayers were shattered by the bullets of terror. United Sikhs is in touch with the families on the ground and has setup a GoFundMe page along with Facebook campaign for urgent assistance to the Afghani Sikhs impacted by this horrific act of violence.

The assistance will be two-folds, Advocacy to rehabilitate and Humanitarian Aid for urgent and emergency needs. United Sikhs urges the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Pakistan and other countries to answer the plea of the Sikhs and give them Special Protected Status.

Special entry into their countries via protected asylum, relocation, security and/or rebuilding efforts must be undertaken on an urgent basis. United Sikhs is working with the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres to speed up the migration of the Afghan Sikhs with UNHCR.

We realize that the only plausible option is international resettlement along with a process where the Sikh heritage in Afghanistan can be preserved.

In the past 48 hours United Sikhs has contacted the Afghan Sikh community in Afghanistan to assess their immediate needs through our chapter in Peshawar, Pakistan. Our legal wing has contacted the Afghanistan Ambassadors in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Kenya to seek security and safety of all remaining Sikhs in Afghanistan.

We have reached out to the UN Rapporteurs to familiarize them with the issue at hand while seeking migration assistance for the Afghan families. We have urged the global community on social media to write to their congressmen, members of parliament and relevant law makers asking them to condemn this terrorist attack.

United Sikhs has been advocating for the Afghan Sikhs since 2015 when refugee status was sought in Canada with the leadership of Alberta MLA Manmeet Singh Bhullar before his tragic passing. In 2018 after the Jalalabad bombing left 12 Sikh leaders dead, United Sikhs presented before the 39th session of the Human Rights Council the plight of the Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan.

Later that year a petition was filed in the Canadian Parliament seeking safe passage. In the USA, over the past few years, the State Department has been approached as well as direct meetings taken place with Ambassador Brownback of the Office of International Religious Freedom.

Alarmingly, a second attack occurred when an explosion jolted the grieving families while performing the final rites of the deceased. Afghanistan has historically been home to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs for centuries.

However due to the constant targeted violence the Sikh population has dwindled to barely one thousand, made up of less than 300 families, with only a few gurdwaras (houses of worship and learning) functioning in the country.

One of the reasons some have been hesitant to leave Afghanistan has been to safeguard and protect their historical institutions. However with the constant carnage and devastation there remains very little in an alternative.

Globally, all United Sikhs chapters stand unified in its condemning of the violence against the Sikh community in Afghanistan. The Sikh faith believes in bringing out the mutual understanding, respect and dignity of ALL people. Together, we join the world in supporting the families of those lost to this terrorist and senseless attack on our community.

About United Sikhs: United Sikhs is a UNO affiliated, international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization, aimed at empowering those in need, especially disadvantaged and minority communities across the world.

United Sikhs is registered: as a non-profit tax-exempt organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in the USA; as a Registered Charity in England and Wales under the Charities Act 1993, Charity Number 111 2055; registered in Australia as a not for profit NGO (ABN 24 317 847 103); and is a registered NGO in Belgium; as a non-profit organization in Canada; under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in Panjab and as a tax-exempt organisation under section 80G of the Income Tax Act 1961; under the French Association Law 1901; under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan; as a registered society under the Registrar of Societies in Malaysia (registered as UNITED SIKHS Malaysia Humanitarian Aid Organisation- Regn No: PPM-015-14-06042015); and an NGO pending registration in the Republic of Ireland.

Gurvinder Singh United Sikhs

The Hindu – Kabul gurdwara attacker left a wide footprint

He did small jobs in Bengaluru, Malaysia, Saudi and Dubai before joining IS

Suhasini Haidar – Vijaita Singh

New Delhi – India, 29 March 2020. The man from Kasaragod in Kerala, who is suspected to be one of the three attackers who killed 25 Sikh worshippers in Kabul, Afghanistan, has been on the move since he was 16, taking up small jobs in Bengaluru, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Dubai before making his way to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, the body of Tian Singh, the lone Indian killed in the March 25 attack, is expected to be brought to India on Monday, sources told The Hindu. His body will be brought on one of the special flights expected this week to take out about 2,500 Afghan tourists and temporary visitors.

On 25 March, his widow Rajeet Kaur and one son, Jagmeet Singh, had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for an early repatriation of his last remains, as all commercial flights had been cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources said the government gave special permission to the Afghan embassy in Delhi to operate several special flights, the first of which flew to Kabul on Saturday, and also put in a request for the return of Tian Singh’s body.

Two other children who are unable to travel from London have also tweeted an appeal for visas from the Indian High Commission in London and permission to return and “attend and perform the last rites” of their father.

A loner with no known friends in India, Muhammed Muhsin, 29, is said to have contacted his mother about nine months ago Telegram, when he was thought to be in Dubai, a senior official said. Muhsin, he said, had asked his mother to join a group called ‘Gentleman’ on the app.

On March 26, she received a message from a Telegram ID, ‘@war3030’, that her son was dead.

One of his brothers confirmed to security agencies that the photograph of the attacker published by Al Naba, the propaganda wing of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), is that of Muhsin’s.

The officials have claimed that though Muhsin was never on the radar of the police, the security agencies had noticed his father’s mobile phone number in a WhatsApp group created by Rashid Abdullah, alias Abu Isa, who led the group of 21 men and women from Kerala that had left India in 2016.

“While verifying the details of the members of the WhatsApp group moderated by Rashid, it was found that Muhsin was then in Dubai,” said the official. The official said Muhsin dropped out of a government school in Class XI. He also went to a madrassa in Class VII.

He moved to Bengaluru to work in a hotel but returned after a year. He then moved to Dubai where he worked at Emirates Petroleum. On his return, he moved to Malaysia.

“He came back in 2015, stayed for a few months in Kerala only to move to Saudi Arabia in 2016,” the official said. He came from Saudi Arabia in 2018 and stayed in Kerala for four months. He left for Dubai the same year and did not return. He last contacted his mother nine months ago.

As reported by The Hindu, the family did not inform the police that Muhsin was missing. Officials suspect he moved to Afghanistan from Dubai to join the ISKP.

The Statesman – ‘Sikh families who want to be flown out of Afghanistan, it’s our duty to help them’: Amarinder Singh

On 25 March unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a Sikh gurdwara in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, killing at least 27 worshippers and wounding as many, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority community in the country.

New Delhi – India, 28 March 2020. Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, on Saturday, urged Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to bring stranded Sikh families back from war-ravaged Afghanistan to India.

CM Singh took to Twitter and said, “Dear Dr S Jaishankar, there are a large number of Sikh families who want to be flown out of Afghanistan. Request you to get them airlifted at the earliest. In this moment of crisis, it’s our bounden duty to help them.”

On 25 March, unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a Sikh gurdwara in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, killing at least 27 worshippers and wounding as many, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority community in the country.

India had condemned the heinous terror attack on the gurdwara in Kabul and said such “cowardly attacks especially at this time of COVID 19 pandemic is reflective of diabolical mindset of perpetrators, their backers”.

“We convey our sincerest condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased and wish speedy recovery to the injured. India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar also condemned the attack. He had said: “Deeply concerned at the blasts reported near the cremation site of those killed during the attack on Gurudwara Sahib in Kabul.”

Jaishankar said that Indian Embassy in Kabul was in touch with Kabul security authorities. He said that he has asked them to ensure adequate security onsite as well as safe return of families to their homes thereafter.

CM Amarinder Singh and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also condemned the attack on a religious gathering in a Gurdwara in Kabul. Amarinder Singh described the attack as extremely “tragic and unfortunate”.

“Horrific news coming from Kabul where a barbaric terror attack happened in the Gurudwara Guru Har Rai. It’s extremely tragic and unfortunate. Request (Afghanistan) President @Ashraf Ghani Ji to find out the perpetrators and look after our people,” Singh had tweeted.

The Ashraf Ghani government has blamed the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network for the terror attack.

However, the Taliban, has denied involvement in the attack on the Sikh shrine. Though the US and Taliban have signed a peace deal, violence in Afghanistan remains unabated.

‘Sikh families who want to be flown out of Afghanistan, it’s our duty to help them’: Amarinder Singh

The Tribune – Child injured in blast near Sikh crematorium in Afghan capital

Kabul – Afghanistan, 26 March 2020. A bomb blast took place near a Sikh crematorium in the Afghan capital on Thursday, injuring a child and disrupting funeral services for 25 members of the minority community who had been killed by a heavily armed Islamic State suicide bomber a day earlier.

A magnetic bomb went off close to the Sikh crematorium in Kabul, Pajhwok Afghan News quoted a policeman as saying.

It said a child was injured in the blast, which also disrupted the funeral services for the victims of the Islamic State attack on a prominent gurdwara on Wednesday in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul.

Thursday’s attack was the second assault on the minority community in as many days.

Wednesday’s attack was one of the deadliest targeting the Sikh community in the strife-torn country. Eighty people, including women and children, were rescued from the gurdwara.

TOLO news, quoting sources in the Afghan government blaming the dreaded Haqqani group for the attack.

The Pakistan-based Haqqani group, designated by the US as a banned terror outfit, has conducted several deadly attacks inside Afghanistan.

Sikh lawmaker Narendar Singh Khalsa told reporters that up to 150 people were praying inside the gurdwara when it came under attack.

Khalsa, the only representative of the Sikh community in Afghanistan, said he received a call from a worshipper inside the gurdwara, informing him about the attack.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack on the gurdwara, saying the attack on the religious sites shows the extreme weakness of the enemy, religious sites should not be vulnerable to attacks and violence.

War-torn Afghanistan is currently mired in a political stalemate with two politicians, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, both claiming victory in the presidential election.

Sikhs have been target of attacks by Islamist militants before in Afghanistan.

In July 2018, ISIS terrorists bombed a gathering of Sikhs and Hindus in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing 19 people and injuring 20.

Awtar Singh Khalsa, one of the country’s best-known Sikh politicians then, was among those killed in the attack.

Afghanistan Times – Sikhs seek asylum in Canada in wake of Gurdwara attack

Faizi Mansour

Kabul – Afghanistan, 27 March 2020. Afghan Sikh community has called on the government of Canada to accept their asylum plea after a deadly attack conducted by the ISIS-Khurarsan or so called Daesh on one of their worship places (Gurdwara) in capital Kabul that killed 25 and wounding eight other Afghan Sikhs.

Over 100 Sikh families have sought asylum in Canada.

An Afghan Sikh, Sorbi Singh accused the government of committing negligence to the Sikh minorities, saying that no one in Afghanistan pays attention to their problems.

“President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are jeopardizing the people for their personnel interests,” Tajindar Singh, another Afghan Sikh said. “We are exhausted.”

Meanwhile, Narindar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh member of the Afghan parliament has condemned the attack and called it in contrast with humanity. “You will never succeeded,” he said in respond to the militants.

Last week, the ISIS-Khurarsan militants set a complex attack on Gurdwara, the Afghan Sikhs’ worship place in PD 1st of capital city of Kabul.

The attack has faced serious reactions from Afghan and foreign officials. Sikhs are considered as the minority of the Afghan mass.

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on our Sikh sisters and brothers in Kabul and condole with the victims,” said National Security Advisor, Hamdullah Mohib. – Afghan Sikhs re-attacked with missile in Crematorium; Ammunition mines recovered near Crematorium

Sikh24 Editors

Kabul – Afghanistan, 26 March 2020. In a video uploaded recently over social media, the DSGMC president Manjinder Singh Sirsa has revealed that the Afghan Sikhs have been re-attacked with missile in the crematorium of Kabul when they were about to cremate the dead bodies of more than two dozen Sikhs killed in 25 March attack.

“All of them are currently hiding in the crematorium and the Army has recovered ammunition mines in the nearby area,” Sirsa informed.

Afghan Sikhs re-attacked with missile in Crematorium; Ammunition mines recovered near Crematorium

Khaama Press Agency – Abu Khalid al-Hindi carried out the attack on Sikh temple in Kabul: ISIS-K

Kabul – Afghanistan, 27 March 2020. The offshoot of the Islamic State terror group, ISIS Khurasan, claimed that the attack on Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Kabul was carried out by Abu Khalild al-Hindi.

The Amaq News Agency, affiliated with the terror group released the photo of the suicide bomber who stormed the Sikh temple in Kabul city on Wednesday.

The terror group also issued a brief statement claiming that the Sikh minority group was the target of the attack.

The Ministry of Interior confirmed that the attack on Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Kabul city left at least 25 people dead and 8 others wounded.

This is not the first time the terror group is targeting the minority groups in Afghanistan.

A suicide attack, claimed by ISIS Khurasan, killed at least 19 people including many members of the Sikh community in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar in mid-2018.

The attack also killed also killed Awtar Singh Khalsa, the only Sikh candidate who had planned to contest the parliamentary elections.

Abu Khalid al-Hindi carried out the attack on Sikh temple in Kabul: ISIS-K

Dawn – Twenty-five dead in attack on Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Kabul

At least 25 people were killed on Wednesday in an attack on a Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Afghanistan’s capital where worshippers were offering morning prayers, the latest brutal assault claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Kabul – Afghanistan, 26 March 2020. The incident highlights the country’s ongoing security crisis and comes as the impoverished nation reels from a massive cut in US aid and struggles with a raging insurgency, political deadlock, and rising corona-virus cases.

Pakistan condemned the assault and said there could be no justification for such an attack. In a statement, its Foreign Office expressed solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.

A witness to the attack, Singh Sonny, said a man dressed in a police uniform burst into the temple (Gurdwara) in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the main hall.

“Several other attackers also entered the building and they were going from room to room shooting people,” Sonny said.

Only a few thousand Sikhs and Hindus are estimated to reside in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the assault started around 7:45am. There were conflicting accounts about how many gunmen were involved, with security sources giving differing numbers between one and four.

At least one attacker was subsequently killed by security forces in an hours-long clearing operation.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE intelligence group. The Taliban denied any involvement.

Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh member of the Afghan parliament, said at the time of the attack about 150 people were in the temple, where worshippers gather for morning prayers.

“Some people inside the temple are hiding and their phones are off,” Honaryar said while the attack was continuing.

Tariq Arian said 25 civilians had been killed and eight others wounded, while 80 people had been rescued from the temple (Gurdwara). Graphic images posted online showed several bodies as well as terrified people who appeared to be Sikhs running from the scene.

IS has a history of targeting Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, including a suicide bombing in Jalalabad in July 2018 that killed 19 people and wounded 21.

In recent months, the militant group has suffered mounting setbacks after being hunted by US and Afghan forces as well as Taliban offensives targeting their fighters, but it still retains the ability to launch major assaults on urban centres.

Earlier this month, the group killed 32 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a political gathering in Kabul.

To add to Afghanistan’s woes, Washington slashed the amount of aid to the country this week after President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has also proclaimed himself president, failed to resolve their standoff.

Following a visit to Kabul, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would immediately cut $1 billion and was prepared to pull another $1bn in 2021, with further cuts possible.

Pakistan’s stance

Weighing in on the matter, the Foreign Office said: “Pakistan strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack on a gurdwara in Kabul that has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injuries to several worshippers. Such despicable attacks have no political, religious or moral justification and must be rejected outright.”

“Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this inhuman act and we pray for the swiftest recovery of the injured. We also express our abiding solidarity with the fraternal people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. All places of worship are sacrosanct and their sanctity must be respected at all times,” it added.

Baqir Sajjad Syed contributed to this report