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SOURCE: TNN

First, under Taliban rule, the minority Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistanwere told to identify themselves by wearing yellow armbands – just like the Nazis made the Jews wear yellow badges -, then they were systematically driven out of the country due to enforced discrimination, and now the Islamic State and likely Pakistani elements are actively murdering them, report various credible news agencies.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan’s president in the eastern city of Jalalabad killing at least 19 people + . Ten of those killed were Sikhs and seven were Hindu, said one Associated Press report. as many as 20 were wounded and the casualty would have been higher had much of the city not been blocked off for President Ashraf Ghani’s visit.

The Islamic State claimed the attack in a statement through its online Amaq news agency, said news agency Reuters. Islamic State fighters have established a strong presence in recent years in Jalalabad where yesterday’s Hindu-Sikh targeted bombing occurred.

Other sources, like news agency ANI, said the bombing was allegedly perpetrated by the Taliban under the patronage of Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Yet others say Pakistani terrorists – again via ISI direction – are actively targeting Hindus and Sikhs across the border in Afghanistan. It has long been known that the ISI – a state element – supports those carrying out terror acts against India.

Sikhs and Hindus have long suffered widespread discrimination in the conservative Muslim countries and have been regularly targeted by Islamic extremists. In the 1990s, it’s said Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan numbered more than 80,000. But, today only around a 1,000 remain.

The situation of Sikhs and Hindus even in Pakistan, especially in areas bordering Afghanistan, is abysmal. A month ago, prominent Sikh religious leader Charanjit Singh Sagar was shot dead in the Peshawar city of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. The minority Sikh and Hindu community in Pakistan remains a frequent target of the Pakistani Taliban – which the US has said is supported by state elements – and many of these families have been forced to migrate to Europe and India, said ANI.

Among those killed in Afghanistan yesterday was Avtar Singh Khalsa, who had planned to stand in October’s parliamentary elections in Afghanistan. In this overwhelmingly Muslim nation, a small number of Hindus and Sikhs remain, and one seat in the Afghan parliament is reserved for a member of the these small communities.

Parwiz Kawa, a noted journalist and writer in Afghanistan expressed grave concern over the barbaric killing of Avtar Singh and other members from the minority community.

“And our Avtar Singh no longer runs for the parliament. Terrorists killed him along with 9 other Afghan Sikhs and 9 more. A total of 19 people lost their lives in a blast in Nangarhar province,” Kawa tweeted.

In May, Kawa had tweeted saying Avtar Singh’s candidature show that the “battle for democracy eventually wins, and it shows a win for democracy”.