KABUL: Afghanistan plans to renovate temples of Hindu and Sikh communities – in what is seen as a rare move by the government to address woes of religious minorities who have called this country their home over the centuries.
Ministry of Finance has unveiled a $650,000 budget plan to renovate and improve worshiping sites and temples of Hindu and Sikh communities across the country.
Ministerial spokesperson, Shamrooz Khan Masjedi, said on Saturday that the budget will be implemented next solar year. “We plan to renovate Hindu temples in provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia, Ghazni and a few in the south – all in consultation with Hindu and Sikh chieftains,” he said.
According to Masjedi, the plan will be implemented in concert with priorities of the Hindu and Sikh representatives.
Despite the continued violence in the country, religious persecution remains the strongest motivator for Afghan Hindus leaving the country. Although there is no census data available in the country to estimate exact numbers due to years of war and conflict, the community members themselves speculate that there are perhaps no more than a few thousand Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan today.
In the 1970s before unrest began swirling in Afghanistan, there were around 700,000 Hindus and Sikhs, and now they are estimated to be just thousands scattered across provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar and Ghazni.