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India condemns removal of Nishan Sahib from Gurdwara Thala Sahib in Afghanistan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6

India has condemned the forcible removal of Nishan Sahib atop the roof of historic Gurdwara Thala Sahib in Afghanistan’s Paktia province and hoped that “Afghanistan’s future must be one where interest of all sections of Afghan society, including minorities and women, are protected.”

Charan Singh, a local resident, confirmed the flag removal incident. He claimed Taliban commanders had initially threatened the caretaker and later forced him to take it down from its rightful place.

The armed men, he said, forced the caretaker to remove the Nishan Sahib from its assigned place and tied it to a tree so that it cannot be viewed as a distinct symbol from afar.

The gurdwara, located in Chamkani area of Paktia, was once visited by Guru Nanak.

It has Guru Sahib’s Prakash and is maintained by a dozen Sikhs families that remain in the region.

The gurdwara was in the news in July 2020 when Nidan Singh Sachdeva, a leader of the Hindu and Sikh community in Afghanistan was abducted from the gurdwara. The wider region called “Loya Paktia” has been a Mujahideen and then a TalibanHaqqani Group stronghold since the early 1980s. India had then blamed the Haqqani Group and the Lashkar-e-Toiba for the massacre.

Sachdeva’s kidnapping had followed a massacre of 30 Sikhs in Gurudwara Guru Har Rai in Kabul in May last year. At that time, India had offered all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan.

The frequent targeting of the Sikh community has seen the one-lakh-strong Sikh and Hindu communities reduced to just a few thousands.

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