PERSPECTIVE
An appeal to Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh
Can Jathedar Akal Takht negotiate with Afghanistan, Indian and UN authorities to check where the Sikhs in Afghanistan want to go?
- AMANDEEP SANDHU
Can Jathedar Akal Takht negotiate with Afghanistan, Indian and UN authorities to check where the Sikhs in Afghanistan want to go?



In a dastardly attack, two weeks back, on March 25, at 7.45 am, 25 Afghanistan Sikhs, including women and one child, were gunned down in a Gurdwara in Kabul. The initial blame was on the Taliban Haqqani network but it denied its role. Soon, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack through various social media accounts. 

The next day, bombs went off during the final rights of the victims. Luckily, no one died or was injured. One of the gunman in the attack was identified as Abu Khalid al-Hindi, an Indian citizen. Indian intelligence agencies identified him as Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal.
 
Yet, no one knows why the attack took place? What was the aim of the attack? Was there a deal that failed which prompted the attack? Why were innocent lives lost? To say that the attack was carried out 'in response to the Indian government's actions in Indian-administered Kashmir' seems lame because if there is one community and one region that stands by the rights of Kashmir it is Sikhs and Panjab. 

Ironically the congregation at the Kabul Gurdwara had collected to seek God’s blessings for Afghanistan to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic. Any loss of life is to be condemned but it is utterly cowardly that this attack took place in a time when the world is facing an unprecedented crises whose only parallel is with the Second World War but the danger of the virus is even more direct.

While many around the world mourned the attack, there was a sad glee in the BJP ranks. For the Hindutva forces, the attack was evidence that the Citizen Amendment Act was timely and necessary. To them, it undid the protests on the Citizenship Act in which millions were participating before the Covid-19 contagion broke out. There were many tweets and messages proclaiming thus. The point made, once again now there is silence on the attack, its reasons, and its aftereffects.  

As usual, and especially in this time of Covid-19 contagion, the investigation will be slow and would most probably lose track and will someday be closed. Even if it yields  any results, it will not help us get back our lost victims.  

One week back, the acting Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh gave a message to the Sikh community on its role in the times of the Covid-19 contagion. In his address, he expressed his condolences to the Afghan Sikhs and called out the horror of terrorism. He said that Covid-19 is a global crises and will force the world to reorganise itself. He believes nationalism is not an adequate framework to address the contagion. In this address he called upon the Sikhs to reimagine themselves as a 'world community' and not be limited by nationalistic identities. 

Watch video:
 Video message of Jathedar, Sri Akal Takht Sahib (With English subtitles):

Tellingly, Gianiji said: 'the world is today going through the same struggle in which the Sikh society has been entangled for a while. If we search for a solution to the Sikh crises, we can also find a solution to the world’s crises. That is how the Sikh society can become a laboratory for the world to solve its crises.'

As Baisakhi approaches, which we shall all celebrate indoors, here is an appeal to Gianiji:

Can Sri Akal Takht – which stands sovereign and independent as conceived by the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind ji - please negotiate with Afghanistan, Indian, and the UN authorities to check with the 300-odd Sikh families in Afghanistan as to where they want to go?
 
Before this heinous barbarism in March this year, even on July 1, 2018, 19 Sikhs were killed in Jalalabad. The list of atrocities is long. The Sikhs in Afghanistan are vulnerable and caught as pawns in a game between world powers. They are tired of having to live amidst such threat.  

The Afghan Sikhs could choose out of their free will to continue to live in Afghanistan, come to India or go Germany (where many Afghan Sikh settled after they fled when former Afghanistan President Mohammad Najibullah was killed and Taliban took over) or go to Canada (where now in any case many Panjabis/Sikhs want to go). Once their desire is established, can Sri Akal Takht facilitate their move to whichever is their chosen country?

Very sadly and unfortunately, it is clear that the Afghanistan chapter of the Sikh history is on its last page. Let us then as a community turn it well and establish what Gianiji meant when he urged the Sikhs to consider themselves as a 'world community'.    

Amandeep Sandhu is the author of PANJAB: Journeys Through Fault Lines.

 

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Watch video:


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