Members of Hindus and Sikhs community in Afghanistan said threats against them have increased and that they are worried about their safety.
Afghan Hindus, Sikhs Are Not Celebrating Diwali This Year
The Afghan Hindus and Sikhs say they will not celebrate this year’s Diwali festival due to deadly incidents took place in the country recent months.
The festival was not held last year either due to a deadly incident in Kabul.
Hindus and Sikhs living in Kabul said that the death of 14 Hindus and Sikhs in Nangarhar bombing July, assassination of former Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq and Helmand parliamentary elections candidate Abdul Jabar Qahraman are some of the violent incidents that have left them with no option rather than canceling the celebration of the festival.
Diwali is a Hindu festival with lights, held in the period October to November.
“How can we celebrate our happiness while everyday soldiers, ordinary people and elders are killed?” asked Narinder Singh Khalsa, Hindus and Sikhs representative.
The Hindus and Sikhs said their safety has been fragile in the recent years as according to them many Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have left the country over the past years.
“We don’t want to hold Diwali festival this year due to Jalalabad incident and the loss of important figures such as Gen. Raziq and Jabar Qahraman,” said Sorpal SinghKhalsa, deputy head of a committee of Hindus and Sikhs.
Diwali is one of the most valued festivals for Hindus and Sikhs in the world and they celebrate it by music, fireworks and lighting candles.
“In previous years, we were doing fireworks and based on the principles of the festival, our sisters were coming and we were giving them their expenses as gift and we were very happy,” said Cartar Singh, a resident of Kabul, who explained their excitement in Diwali celebrations of previous years.
“This festival was celebrated widely in Afghanistan in previous years, but now our population has decreased here. In the past, we were 120,000 families in Afghanistan,”said Ragbir Singh, member of Hindus and Sikhs committee of Dharamsala in Kabul.
Hindus and Sikhs have lived in Afghanistan for generations; however, various conflicts have forced many of them to leave the country and settle elsewhere.