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Sikh diaspora extends helping hand to anguished families in Afghanistan

March 27, 2020

Sikh diaspora has extended a helping hand to the anguished Sikh Afghanistani families mourning the deaths of their loved ones to help them rebuild their lives. On Wednesday,  25 Sikhs were killed in a terror attack in Kabul.

Talking to TOI on Thursday, the United Kingdom (UK)-based chairman of Seva Trust, Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, said a fund-raiser campaign has been started in UK to raise £30,000 to help the families of the victims.

“The campaign has already received a huge support,” he said, adding that they were also liaising with other UK-based charities and the foreign office to ensure there was a coordinated response to ensure that the needed help reaches the affected families in a speedy manner. “We would soon like to see the full restoration of the gurdwara,” Sekhon said.

He said the perpetrators of the heinous crime should be brought to justice swiftly by the Afghan authorities and sufficient security measures should be put in place for all minority places of worship.

While suggesting that all the help to the families of the victims will be provided through the Indian embassy in Kabul, a prominent philanthropist from Dubai, P S Chandok, said he will hold a video conference with his other colleagues and Sikh leaders on Thursday to chalk out a plan, following which he will take up the issue with the Indian ambassador in Kabul.

He said he would also take up the issue with Akal Takht jathedar to appoint a relief team, who can visit Afghanistan and start relief measures as soon as the flights to Afghanistan are restored.

Surbir Singh Bindra, who hails from Jalalabad and currently lives in Delhi, said the international communities should extend a helping hand to the Sikh families in Afghanistan. He said they should also exert pressure on the Afghanistan government to ensure safety of Sikhs.

Bindra had migrated to India in 1992. For the first time since, he had visited Afganistan about six months ago. “Minority communities in Afghanistan had always been targeted by the militants. Deep inside they feel scared of the unforeseen, but otherwise they are thriving there. They have their businesses, houses and other properties and can’t migrate. It is the Afghanistan government that should ensure their protection,” he said.

In July 2018, a suicide bomber had blown himself up after infilterating into a group of Sikh and Hindu leaders of Afghanistan at Jalalabad — when they were going to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — killing Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was the only Sikh candidate running for the parliamentary elections held in the war-torn nation in October 2018. Avtar’s son Narinder Singh is now an MP in Afghanistan.

A release issued by the Sikh Coordination Committee East Cost in the unites States stated that they had urged the American and Canadian governments to provide preferential asylum for Afghani Sikhs to end their religious persecution.

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