Religious minorities, especially the Hindus and Sikhs have always face misbehaviour in Afghanistan
Although Afghanistan’s constitution has granted rights for Hindus and Sikhs to practise their religious ceremonies, but Afghan Hindus still face many problems, even in cremating dead bodies.
Besides religious limitations for Hindus, their lands have also been seized by influential people.
All these problems have forced thousands of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs to flee the country.
Many Hindu families in Afghanistan have lost their lands during almost three decades of war in the country. I will focus on the way Afghan Hindus are treated in the Afghan society.
The Beginning of Violence
Hindus have lived in Afghanistan for centuries. According to the figures, about 6,000 Hindus and Sikhs lived in Afghanistan, and were an active part of the Afghan society, especially in the trade field.
Although they were not granted equal rights with other Afghans, but they had their own place in Afghanistan.
Violence against Hindus and Sikhs started after the fall of Dr. Najibullah’s government in………….
“Hindus are among the minorities of the Afghan society who have been scathed the most in Afghanistan.
After war broke out in the country, especially in Kabul, majority of Hindus and Sikhs were forced to immigrate, and most of their houses and lands were taken by force,” said head of the regional office of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
The start of the civil war in the 90th decade was the beginning of violence against Hindus and Sikhs, said Ms Anarkali Honaryar, a representative of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs.
“With the outbreak of the civil war, especially in Kabul, most of the land and houses owned by Hindus and Sikhs were seized by powerful people. The problem started with the civil war and still many have not been able to retake their property,” she added.
The Status of Hindus in the Present Government
After the fall of Taliban regime and the establishment of a democratic government, a new constitution was drafted that ensured equal rights for all Afghan citizens, irrespective of their religion and ethnicity.
Some practical steps were also taken, since President Karzai appointed some Hindu representatives as senators.
But most programmes have not been implemented and Afghan Hindus and Sikhs still face many problems.
“All our efforts to get back these lands were in vain. When we went to the government institutions, no one helped us,” said Charan Singh, a former representative of Hindus in the constitutional Jirga.
It is not correct to use the term “minority” among Afghan citizens, and Afghanistan’s constitution grants equal rights for all citizens, said Kabir Ranjbar, a parliamentarian and a lawyer.
“There is no discrimination among Afghan citizens, and the Hindus are also part of these rights,” he added.
“Law is neglected here and it is neglected in general. The Afghan government is weak and can not implement the law and can not defend its citizens,” said Mr. Ranjbar.
Hindus and Sikhs’ Lands Seized in Kandahar and Khost
The seizure of land has been among major problems that Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh communities have faced in the past years.
Hindu and Sikh representatives say the problem is still continuing in most provinces of the country.
Charan Singh, the representative of Hindus in the parliament, said a premises of Hindus and Sikhs has been seized by a woman in Khost province.
“We have the orders of all government institutions, and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) is also aware of this issue, but no steps have been taken in the past four years,” Charan Singh said.
AIHRC that has studied the seizure of Hindus’ lands said their lands in Kabul were mainly grasped in the city’s Kart-e-Parwan area.
“There were even cases that after the final decision of the High Court, Hindus have not re-owned their lands,” said Shamsullah Ahmadzai, regional head of AIHRC.
“A land belonged to Hindus and some influentials have seized it and have constructed a huge building on it,” Mr. Ahmadzai added pointing out the seizure of Hindus’ lands in Kandahdar.
Complexity of land-selling
Questions have risen concerning the selling of Hindus’ lands, and we are mentioning a one of the complex cases.
Bagwan Singh, an Afghan living in London, in a contact with TOLOnews said his lands were sold without his permission in Kabul, after false documents about his property were prepared.
Saifullah, the man who has bought the land showed the purchase documents that were sent from India, and were confirmed by all government institutions in Afghanistan.
But the question is that the farmer working on the land showed an authorisation letter signed by Bagwan Singh, the land’s owner who lives in London now.
The letter that was sent from Britain authorised anything regarding the land, except selling it. Muhammad Shafiq, the land’s farmer blamed Saifullah who is a police officer for preparing false documents.
Shafiq, who claimed that he was authorised and has ownedf the land in the past fifty years, said he will accept the deal only when the sold land money is given to its real owner.
Amar Singh and Hari Ram, two other Hindus are also involved in the case.
These two claimed that the owner of the land came to India from Britain a few days ago and chose them as his legal representatives, but the land’s farmer emphasised that he is ready for a punishment if these men prove that they have the authorisation letter from the land’s owner.
Bagwan Singh, who claims himself as the son of the land’s owner, and the only heir of the property, said he had sent an authorisation letter to the farmer and called all other documents regarding the land fraudulent. It seems like the issue needs further investigation.
Creating Limitations in Cremation
Afghanistan’s constitution has allowed the country’s religious minorities to practise their religious ceremonies freely, but the country’s Sikhs and Hindus have problems in cremating dead bodies, which is their religious practice.
Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs cremate dead bodies in an area called “Hindu Suzan” that means Hindu burning site.
But some people who have recently built houses near the area, are creating problems by preventing them from cremating dead bodies there, while the area is the property of Hindus.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says Kabul municipality has verified an area in Kabul for the cremation Hindus’ dead bodies, but the commission still does not know if the land in the area is handed over to the Hindus and Sikhs.
“We have witnessed many times that people have thrown stones on us while we were cremating our dead bodies,” said the representative of Hindus and Sikhs, Anarkali Honaryar.
Hindus had lands in Tapa-e-Maranjan area in Kabul long ago, and used it as cremation site, but after the area was allocated for graveyard, and another place was specified for Hindus, said Dia Singh Anjan, a representative of Hindus and Sikhs.
“We bought some land in Kabul’s Qalacha area with our own money, and prepared it for our religious ceremonies,” he added.
Mr. Anjan emphasised that 20,000 meter square of land was allocated for Hindus during the emergency Jirga, but when the issue was discussed with the Ministry of Hajj and Pilgrimage, the deputy minister said he was unaware of the issue.
Many Afghan Hindu and Sikh citizens are forced to flee the country due to social and legal inequalities.
This issue not only depicts the lack of law enforcement in the country, but it also damages Afghanistan’s reputation internationally.
Afghanistan’s constitution grants equal rights for all citizens, but it has been cleared in the past few years that government authorities have focused more on political deals, instead of focusing on equal implementation of law on all Afghan citizens.