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Hindus again warn of leaving Afghanistan

Hindus again warn of leaving Afghanistan

Dec 24, 2013 - 18:38

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Slamming the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon decision denying them a parliament seat as discriminatory, the Council of Hindus and Sikhs on Tuesday renewed its warning of leaving the country if they were not given proper representation in the lower house.

The warning comes as the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house of parliament, upheld a presidential decree reserving the seat for the Hindu and Sikh minority.

On Dec. 14, the Wolesi Jirga rejected the legislative decree President Hamid Karzai had signed in early September in line with Article 79 of the constitution and the electoral law.

Hindus and Sikhs called the denial an obvious act of discrimination against them, saying a reserved seat would help them convey their problems to the authorities.

Avtar Singh, the council chairman, told a seminar in Kabul they needed a seat in the lower house; otherwise they would seek asylum in another country.

He told the seminar “Return Hindus and Sikhs Representation Right” that the president’s decree had been thrown out by MPs biased toward the minorities.

He argued the addition of one seat to a 249-member house would not affect the quota of any province. He added they were Afghans and had equal rights like other citizens.

During the three decades of war, Singh said most of their lands, shops and houses were grabbed by powerful individuals, but the government would not address their problems.

Zuhra Sepehr, a civil societyinfo-icon activist who heads a womeninfo-icon’s protection organisation, also accused the lower house of adopting a discriminatory approach toward the minorities.

She believed the lower house should not have rejected the seat because the Hindus and Sikhs living in the country were Afghans. She said Hindus had long been deprived of their civil rights, calling on the masses to support them.

At the end, the Hindus and Sikhs Council issued a resolution that urged the Supreme Court to intervene into the matter and stop the lower house from passing laws against the constitution.

“The government should take steps to curb prejudices against Hindus and Sikhs and address their problems and help them regain properties they lost to powerful individuals.”

The resolution also called for establishing special schools for children of the minorities and ensuring they observed religious ceremonies with freedom and protection.

It asked asking the parliament, especially the upper house, to return them their long violated social and political rights.

Anar Kali Hunaryar, the only minority representative at the Upper House, said a total of 7,000 Hindus and Sikhs had Afghanistaninfo-icon citizenship and of them only 5,000 lived in the country.

Around 3,000 Hindu and Sikh families live in Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz and Khost province and 35 families reside in Kabul.

During the civil war and the subsequent rise of the Talibaninfo-icon, most rich Hindu and Sikh families left the country, with 1,000 migrating to India in the 1990s.

Those still living in the country come from poor families and most of them are traders and run herbal medicine shops.




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