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Posted at: Jul 9, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: Jul 9, 2018, 12:13 PM (IST)

Slain Sikh leader’s son in Afghanistan poll fray

Slain Sikh leader’s son in Afghanistan poll fray
Narinder Singh Khalsa with ex-President Hamid Karzai.

Rachna Khaira

Tribune news service

Jalandhar, July 8

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan on Sunday granted permission to Narinder Singh Khalsa (38), the son of slain Sikh leader Avtar Singh Khalsa, to contest the October parliamentary elections.

Speaking to The Tribune over phone, Khalsa said he had been asked to file nomination papers by July 21. He has also been exempted from submitting 200 taskira (identity cards) of supporters as the IEC already had more than 1,000 in support of his father.

Applauding Sikhs and help groups across the globe for holding protest rallies in solidarity with those killed in the Jalalabad suicide blast on July 1, Khalsa expressed concern over the Afghanistan government not providing security to Sikh and Hindu families and their shrines.

“In 1988, more than 22 Sikhs were shot dead inside a shrine in Kabul. The July 1 attack wiped out almost the entire Sikh leadership. Despite this, the government has not provided security to the surviving families or Sikh shrines that have been repeatedly targeted by militant groups,” he lamented. The community has now hired  private security guards for protection.

Appealing to Sikhs in various countries for funds to rehabilitate the 220 Afghan Sikh families stranded in Ghazni, Jalalabad and Kabul, Khalsa pointed out that the population of the community had declined from one lakh to a mere 2,500 since 1988. He said while big corporate families had migrated to other countries, including England, India and Germany, those with modest means had nowhere to go and were struggling for survival.

“They do not have food or clothes. Sikh children going to government schools face discrimination and are called ‘kafir’. The families do not have the money to send them to private schools,” said Khalsa, who intends to open a school for them after he is elected MP.

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