“We had to pay Jazia Tax to live in Afghanistan” – Rescued Afghani Sikh
On March 25 last year, around 25 Sikhs had lost their lives in a deadly attack launched by the Islamic State’s extremists on Gurdwara Sri Har Rai Sahib Ji in Kabul. This barbaric carnage of innocent Afghan Sikhs had left the entire world shocked, and the Afghan Sikhs were forced to look for a haven to pursue their lives. Despite repeated requests by the eminent Sikh personalities and Afghan Sikhs, western countries like Canada didn’t pay any attention to rescue these persecuted Sikhs from Afghanistan, after which hundreds of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus opted for the only available option of seeking asylum in India. In September last year, hundreds of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus were rescued by the Indian government through chartered flights. To know how these Afghan Sikhs manage their livelihood in India’s national capital New Delhi and how their lives have changed within a year of this barbaric carnage, independent journalist Papalpreet Singh has interviewed some of these Afghan Sikhs exclusively for Sikh24. Ghazni-based 25-year-old Sikh youth Chaibul Singh has said that he misses his native home, but he is helpless to return there. The young Afghan-born Sikh has made a shocking revelation that the Sikhs living in Afghanistan had been paying Jazia (Tax) to live there. “The Muslim rulers used to place a straightforward condition in front of us, i.e., either embrace Islam or pay Jazia if we wanted to live there,” he said while adding that the amount of this Jazia used to be around one hundred thousand every year. On being questioned whether the Taliban was charging this Jazia, Chaibul Singh expressed helplessness to made disclosure in this concern, keeping in view the safety of a handful of Sikhs still living in Afghanistan. “We are now free to practice our faith, unlike in Afghanistan but now earning livelihood has emerged as a new challenge for us,” he said while talking about life in New Delhi. Talking about those who extended a helping hand for rescuing them from Afghanistan, Chaibul Singh especially mentions Bhai Dilip Singh Sethi, Bhai Paramjit Singh Bedi, Bhai Vikramjit Singh Sahni, and the United Sikhs organization. At the end of this interview, Chaibul Singh has said that earning livelihood was proving very difficult for them in New Delhi. All of them want to get shifted to a place where they could earn their livelihood easily while enjoying their religious faith. “If it doesn’t happen, we would be forced to return to Afghanistan as earning a livelihood is quite easy there,” he added.