Taliban restricts ferrying of Sikh scriptures out of Afghanistan; SGPC condemns move
It is learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan had restricted the departure of the holy books out of Afghanistan for want of ‘official clearance’ from the Ministry of Information and Culture The Taliban-led Afghanistan government has denied ferrying of four copies of Sikh scriptures (two Sri Guru Granth Sahib and two Sanchi Sahib) that were to accompany a group of 60 Afghan Sikhs, supposed to land in New Delhi on September 11. It is learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan had restricted the departure of the holy books out of Afghanistan for want of “official clearance” from the Ministry of Information and Culture. The SGPC has strongly condemned the Taliban government for this. Terming it a direct interference in the religious affairs of Sikhs, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami sought intervention of the Prime Minister and Ministry of External Affairs. Indian World Forum, in coordination with the community members in Kabul, has been following this up with Afghan officials, but to no avail. Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of Indian World Forum, an organisation coordinating the evacuation efforts of stranded Afghan minorities with the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian Air Force and the SGPC, said, “Around 60 Afghan Sikhs were scheduled to land in New Delhi on September 11, but they could not. The reason is that the Afghan culture ministry refused to facilitate the departure of the religious scriptures out of Afghanistan for reasons best known to them.” As the issue concerned the protocol department, the matter was conveyed to them, but the response is awaited, he said. The Afghan foreign ministry was adamant that unless an official confirmation letter from the Afghan Culture and Information Ministry was obtained, the scriptures could not be allowed to be taken out of Afghanistan,” said Chandhok. Meanwhile, Jago Party chief Manjit Singh GK said the Afghan Sikhs deferred their evacuation programme till the authorities allowed them to carry the scriptures with them. “We have sought immediate intervention of the Centre through the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Mission in Kabul,” he said, appreciating the Indian government for being liberal in issuing e-visas to the minorities stranded in Afghanistan.