Taliban fighters collect on the website of an explosion in entrance of a Sikh temple in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 18, 2022.
Credit score: AP Picture/Ebrahim Noroozi
Early on June 18, heavily-armed militants focused a gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, within the Afghan capital Kabul. A number of blasts tore by way of the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighborhood earlier than militants opened hearth and hurled grenades on the website. No less than two individuals have been killed and one other seven injured within the assault.
The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), an Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group, claimed accountability for the assault on the gurdwara.
Describing the assault as “an act of assist for the Messenger of Allah,” the ISKP stated in a message posted on its Amaq propaganda website that the assault focused Hindus and Sikhs and the “apostates” who protected them. One in all its fighters “penetrated a temple for Hindu and Sikh polytheists” in Kabul, after killing the guard, and opened hearth on the worshippers there along with his machine gun and hand grenades, it stated.
The ISKP stated that the assault was in retaliation for derogatory remarks made towards the Prophet Mohammed. It was referring to feedback towards Islam and the Prophet made by Nupur Sharma, the now-suspended spokesperson of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP), at a dwell tv debate in India on Might 26.
Sharma’s remarks have evoked a powerful response from Muslims in India and overseas. Governments from over a dozen Muslim international locations from throughout Asia condemned the remarks, with some even demanding a public apology from India. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan urged the “Indian authorities to not enable such fanatics to insult the holy faith of Islam and provoke the sentiments of Muslims.”
In a letter dated June 6, al-Qaida within the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) warned “each audacious and impudent foul mouth of the world, particularly the Hindutva terrorists” in India that it could perform suicide assaults in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat to “combat for the distinction of the Prophet.”
The ISKP’s warning got here simply days earlier than Saturday’s assault on the gurdwara in Kabul. In a 10-minute video, it stated that it could perform suicide assaults in main Indian cities to “avenge” Sharma’s insulting remarks towards the Prophet. The video featured a few of its different assaults in Afghanistan, together with the August 2020 assault on Kabul airport and the March 2020 suicide bombing on the Rai Sahib gurdwara in Kabul. Extra such assaults would observe, the ISKP warned.
Like all Afghans, the Sikhs suffered immensely as a result of a long time of civil warfare in Afghanistan. However like Shia Hazaras, they have been additionally particularly focused for his or her religion, practices, and way of life.
In the course of the first Taliban regime (1996-2001), it was made obligatory for Sikhs to put on a yellow arm band in order that they might be simply recognized, a follow much like the Nazi regulation which required Jews to put on yellow badges. After the autumn of the Taliban in 2001, the state of affairs of Sikhs and different spiritual minorities improved. The 2004 structure acknowledged the rights of “followers of different faiths” to train and carry out their spiritual rights freely “inside the bounds of regulation” however they continued to be discriminated towards.
The ISKP’s emergence in Afghanistan was accompanied by a surge in assaults on Shias and Sikhs and their locations of worship. In July 2018, an ISKP suicide bomber killed 19 individuals in Jalalabad, most of them Sikhs. In March 2020, closely armed ISKP militants stormed the Rai Sahib gurdwara in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar and gunned down over 25 individuals. The ISKP struck once more the subsequent day on the funeral of those that died on the Rai Sahib gurdwara assault.
The persecution and the repeated violent concentrating on of Sikhs in Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll on the neighborhood. Their numbers have declined dramatically over the a long time.
In keeping with Tolo Information, there have been round 220,000 Sikhs and Hindus dwelling in Afghanistan within the Nineteen Eighties. That determine dropped to fifteen,000 within the early Nineteen Nineties and to 1,350 in 2016. The a number of assaults on Sikhs between 2018 and 2021, particularly the assault on the Rai Sahib gurdwara, pressured hundreds to flee Afghanistan. When the Taliban captured energy on August 15 of final 12 months, there have been simply 200 Sikhs within the nation; scores have been evacuated by the Indian authorities within the weeks thereafter.
The implications of the Gurdwara Karte Parwan are more likely to be far reaching. The roughly 150 sturdy Sikh neighborhood will see extra individuals exit. India is alleged to have granted emergency visas to 111 Sikhs since Saturday’s assault.
The neighborhood will likely be decreased to only a few dozens. The distinct identification of the Afghan Sikh neighborhood is in peril.
Afghan Sikhs have typically been appeared upon as Indians. They don’t seem to be. For a number of generations Sikhs have lived in Afghanistan and so they have a definite identification. Gurdwaras have been an vital house that has supplied many Sikhs and Hindus a spot to congregate, worship, and socialize. A number of Sikh households have been dwelling on the gurdwara at Karte Parwan. This gurdwara, which was the final one standing in Kabul, is now destroyed.
Moreover, the assault on the gurdwara is more likely to influence India’s plans to reopen its embassy in Kabul. Early this month, senior Indian officers met Taliban leaders in Kabul to debate diplomatic relations. A diplomatic presence in Kabul was anticipated to be the subsequent step.
Latest warnings issued by the ISKP and the assault on the gurdwara underscore the menace that the jihadist group poses to India within the Afghan capital. New Delhi may be anticipated to decelerate its return to Kabul.