• Sunday, June 26, 2022

Afghanistan

He’d not have died this brutally, had his visa come earlier: Wife of Sikh man killed in Kabul attack

In this picture taken on June 18, 2022, Taliban fighters are pictured inside a Sikh temple following an attack by gunmen in Kabul. Gunmen stormed a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital on June 18 morning, killing at least one member of the community and wounding seven more, the interior ministry said. (Photo by AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: PTI

FOR Sawinder Singh, Kabul no longer felt home after the Taliban took over the Afghanistan capital last year. He ran a small ‘paan’ shop there, lived in a gurudwara, but always wanted to come to Delhi where his family lives.

He had applied for an e-visa. It was approved on Sunday. But the fear that gripped his wife for months had precipitated into reality a day before. The 60-something would never be home!

Singh’s Gurudwara Karte Parwan on Saturday became the latest target of attack on the minority communities’ places of worship in Afghanistan. Two people were killed. Singh was among them.

“He was trying to get a visa ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan,” his wife Pal Kaur breaks down, narrating how she feared for her husband after the Taliban stormed into the capital last year. “Had he got his visa in time he would have not have died this brutal death.”

Several blasts tore through Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighbourhood on Saturday, while Afghan security personnel thwarted a bigger tragedy by stopping an explosive-laden vehicle from reaching the place of worship of the minority community.

“We wanted him to come back as soon as possible. He was ready to sell his shop and move here permanently but the visa clearance never came and we lost him. In the past few months I lived with this fear only,” Kaur told PTI at the family’s home in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar.

The gurdwara was a home to at least 150 Sikhs, who have been staying there since the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government last August. Singh was also a granthi (a ceremonial reader of the Guru Granth Sahib) there.    The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack calling it “an act of support” for the Prophet. A day after the attack, India approved e-visas for over 100 Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan.

Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of the India World Forum who has been coordinating with the Indian government to evacuate Sikhs from the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, said he has been appealing to the government to grant visas to over 150 Sikhs staying there since the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government.

“Singh is also among the 109 people whose visas have been approved but this came too late for him,” he said.     “I have been writing to the government and had we acted promptly we could have saved him. The government should make immediate efforts to rescue those who are desperately waiting to return.”

Since the Taliban took power in August last year, Afghanistan has seen continuing attacks by rival Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State.

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