Rashmi Talwar

60 Hindus, Sikhs stranded in Afghanistan, after Taliban ban to take Sikh Holy Books out of country

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AMRITSAR: Taliban-led Afghan Government restricted the departure and ferrying of Sri Guru Granth Sahib – The holy book of Sikhs – out of Afghanistan by a group of 60 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus scheduled to arrive at Delhi ON September 11, 2022.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan refused to facilitate the departure of four holy books, as per its religious sanctity and protocol. Officials of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs put forward objections taken by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Information & Culture, on the departure of books from Afghanistan until clearance. The books were being carried out of Afghanistan to pay obeisance at Golden Temple Amritsar. The Taliban-led Afghan government however cited the religious scriptures as a heritage of the country.

Puneet Singh Chandhok, President Indian World Forum, while talking to Kashmir Images from Delhi stated: “Immediate intervention of Government of India was sought in this regard, through its Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian mission in Kabul; and talks are underway with their Afghan counterparts, officials confirmed. The clearance for the holy books is however being awaited.”

The Afghan Sikhs- Hindus are from various ethnolinguistic backgrounds including Pashtun, Hindkowan, and Punjabi. Once numbering between 2-5 Lakhs (1.8% to 4.6% of the national population) in the 1970s, their population in Afghanistan dwindled since the Afghan wars began.

It may be mentioned that afghan Sikhs started fleeing from their homeland in 1990 and fewer than 100 are left, including this large group of 60 Sikhs and Hindus who are unwilling to leave the country without the holy books of the Sikhs and hence stranded. Amritsar-based, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) president Harjinder S Dhami, took strong objection to the ban by the Taliban, alluding to it as direct interference in a community’s religious affairs. 

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