Unidentified Gunmen Storm Sikh Shrine In Kabul, Taliban Denies Responsibility
Once a thriving business community, there are now only approximately 300 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan - a vast change from the Seventies when they numbered around 200,000 in Afghanistan, before they started being targeted by Islamist radicals because of their religious beliefs.
A group of unidentified gunmen on Tuesday entered the Sikh holy shrine of Karte Parwan, vandalising the interiors and briefly taking worshippers and their guards hostage, according to statements made by eyewitnesses to Indian Sikh community leaders.
According to those present, the gunmen also broke the closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) at the holy place.
Although the armed intruders claimed that they were from the Taliban*, the Islamist group has denied any responsibility for the incident.
According to Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), the “biggest worry” now for the Sikhs in Afghanistan
is to ensure that they are not targeted because of their faith.
“The intruders even desecrated the Guru Granth Sahib [Sikh's holy scripture]. When the head of the gurdwara approached the local Taliban leader, he denied any knowledge about the incident,” Sirsa said in a video message.
This is the first such incident since the Taliban moved in to take over Kabul on 15 August. The Taliban has repeatedly promised that it will protect the rights of minorities living under its rule, after the international community expressed concerns over the fate of women and minorities under Sharia law.
29 September 2021, 19:28 GMT
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, remarked on 24 September that women, children and minorities in Afghanistan
were in need of “help”, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September.
The incident took place as India continues its attempts to repatriate members of the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan, after the Taliban seized power in the country.
India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told Indian political parties on 26 August in a closed-door briefing that evacuating Indian-origin Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan remained a priority for New Delhi after the Taliban conquest.
He told the floor leaders of the Indian political parties that up to that point, New Delhi had managed to evacuate 112 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and 263 Indian citizens from Afghanistan.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.