The provincial government has promised to help minority Hindu and Sikh families from Khost who had fled to India during the civil war years and want to return.The provincial government has promised to help minority Hindu and Sikh families from Khost who had fled to India during the civil war years and want to return.
A 10-member delegation of refugees from India met provincial authorities recently.
They urged the government to help them reclaim their lands and houses that have been usurped by “powerful people”.
Before Afghanistan was plunged in nearly three decades of conflict that was triggered by the arrival of the Soviet military in 1979, many Indian Afghans lived in the eastern part of Khost city.
Arjoon Singh from Khost who has been living in India says families like his have received no support from the Indian authorities. They do not own property in India; they live in rented houses. “Our life is very bitter in India so we want to return to our homeland,” he told Killid.
“We are called ‘migrants’; in business we to work as coolies (porters). We do not have permission to do other jobs. We want to return to Khost and carry on with the businesses we held jointly with Khostis,” he adds.
Rebuild our houses
Kan Singh, another member of the delegation, said the provincial government must assist them to get their rights. He says their houses in Khost have been destroyed. “We have asked the government to help us rebuild our houses.”
According to Kan Singh, the governor of Khost has promised help. “We have got some promises from the governor.”
Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, spokesman for the Khost governor, Abdul Jabbar Naeemi, said, “We will help the Hindus (and Sikhs) whose lands have been usurped by powerful and other people.”
The delegation held a meeting with the provincial governor.
According to Zadran, the delegation represents hundreds of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in India. The delegation was assured the authorities “will catch the powerful and usurpers and (Hindus and Sikhs) will get their rights”.
On Oct. 31, Governor Naeemi visited the previously Indian fort, in the east of Khost city, and told those who have occupied Hindu and Sikh properties to give them back. In a speech the governor is quoted as saying, according to a translation, “The Hindus of Khost have the same rights as other residents of Khost. Their lands and properties should be handed back to them. The safety of their properties, offspring is incumbent, we will not let anyone exploit Hindus in Khost.”
Naeemi is reported to have assured the delegation that all Khost-based Afghan Indians can return to Khost, and to their old businesses.
Apart from Khost, Indian Afghans – mainly Hindus and Sikhs – lived in Kabul, Kandahar and Nangarhar. Their numbers dwindled during the long years of conflict. Many like the Khostis are seeking to return home.