The Sikhism has been existed in Afghanistan as minority but considered itself as the common citizens of Afghanistan for the last many decades. Though, majority of Sikh community lives in India. On 25th March, 2020 unidentified militant entered into the sacred place- (Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib) in Kabul and shot over nearly 200 worshippers for many hours after clear the operation by international and afghan forces. 25 people dead including an innocent three-year child and several other injured. Later, Islamic State IS took the responsibility of the attack and one of the attackers belongs to the Indian state of Kerala. The Afghan government claimed that the attack was carried by Haqqani network which operates near Afghan crossing in Pakistan. This is not the first attack on Sikh community but recently two days ago, two shops belong to Sikhs were looted and owners were beaten. In 2018, some 19 Sikh were killed in eastern Jalalabad province when they were on the way to meet President Ghani. Then also, the responsibility was taken by IS.
The attack on Gurdwara ‘s (Dharamshala), was shocking moment for the Sikh minority community, according to Narinder Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament representing the country’s Sikh minority, said that three suicide bombers entered the Gurdwara Dharamshala area and start shooting at worshippers. One of the other present at spot was telling the eye witnessed situation and crying that they have killed my three year child and shot on head in front of me. The Sikh community in Afghanistan is so worried about their future after U.S. deal with Taliban. It traumatized the whole community and made them think about fleeing from the country.
This incident happened at a time when Mike Pompeo, United states secretary of state visited to Afghanistan and tried to convince the leaders of Afghanistan on inclusive government, though he left without any concrete solution. Mr. Pompeo warned that if both the leaders do not agree on the inclusive government, U.S. will cut USD 1 billion aids and if this situation continues, we will cut more. On 24 March, 2020, the Afghan President and Indian PM Modi discussed on telephone about the arising situation in the region out of the coronavirus outbreak and further, reaffirmed their commitment to boost cooperation. After the conversation, next day this incident occurred which is clear message for Indian government to treat Muslims well in India on the subject of Citizens Amendments Act (CAA) and the Kashmir. It is important to understand that after U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, India will be on the frontline to support Afghanistan. And extra-governmental actors like ISI in Pakistan, through Taliban and other militant groups are instrumental to operate such kind of activities to resist India to meddle in the Afghanistan after U.S. withdrawal. Pakistan have already tried to link the Kashmir issue with the Afghan peace process and, Pakistan considered India’s involvement in Afghanistan as security threat.
The IS had stronghold in the eastern part of Afghanistan. In early 2019, Afghan government claimed that its brave army have defeated the IS and have cleared the area. The IS have killed hundreds of people in Nangarhar province and also active in Kunar province in Afghanistan. Now, the Islamic state has increased attacks on civilian and afghan forces. Several attacks have been carried out by the IS on Hazara community at the time of Mahram. A month ago, the ceremony of Hazara leader late Mazari at where Hazara leaders and high government officials were present along with former President there was attacked by rocket and more than 30 people were killed and many injured. The attack on Hazara’s Shia community by IS are the revenge against the Hazara leader sends their people to Syria to fight against IS.
One of the attackers was identified as an Indian, belongs to Kerala who left India in 2018 to UAE to join the IS. IS posted the picture of attacker in which, he is known with his (Arabic name) Abu Khalid al-Hindi. He was telling that he along with my family came back to Kerala from Malaysia in 2017, and later left for Saudi Arabia in search of job. Again, he returned to meet his family before going to UAE in 2018.after the convict the Indian central security agencies are beyond the 28 year young Mohammed Mohsin family. One of the victims of the Gurdwara said that the attackers first, entered they were speaking Punjabi language and wore an army uniform.
In the attack, one Afghan security guard (Muslim) was killed when he tried to stop the attackers to enter into Gurdwara. Mahram Ali Shaghasi’s, who was serving as security guard to help at the Gurdwara, was only Muslim victim in the attack. Mahram’s family said that he was very close and cooperative with Sikh community and working with them for last so many years. Abdul Wahid (23) Marrams’ younger son said that “An eyewitness met me at the hospital and told us that there were two people standing at the gate-my father and another Sikh man. When the gunman entered, he first shot the Sikh man and then my father. He adds that his job was very risky, but he was happy to work with them. He also respects the Sikh community and their faith. He always says that all Sikh and Hindus in Afghanistan is his brother. He try his best to protect the minority but despite care of his life and destitute four children”.
The attack was condemned worldwide including European Union, UN Security Council, U.S. and India. Indian foreign ministry in a statement stated “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 communities of Afghanistan.”
Nadir Shah Katawazai
M.A. South Asian Studies
UMISARC Department Pondicherry University