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Hindus in Afghanistan – Oldest Inhabitants Who Are Today Marginalized

Hindus are undoubtedly one of the oldest inhabitants of Afghanistan. Hindus are native people of the land. Some scholars are also of the view that the Vedas originated in Eastern Afghanistan. It is the land of Gandhari and Shakuni of Mahabharata.

Today, majority of Afghan Hindus have been wiped out. The marginalization of Hindus began in the medieval period and continues to the present era. They were mercilessly butchered or forced to forgo Hindu tradition. And those that were able to escape persecution have taken refuge in India, United States and countries in Europe.

Those Hindus that are surviving in Afghanistan are second class citizens. They are required to pay a poll tax and face numerous other impediments in day-to-day life.

Reza Mohammadi Writes about the Hindus in Afghanistan in the Guardian.co.uk

Some excerpts from the article

…the growth of religious fundamentalism has now pushed the Hindus out of government offices, forcing them into the bazaars. It is now many years since a Hindu held a government post in the country.

…if foreigners were to travel to Afghanistan today, they would encounter so few Hindus that they would assume the Hindus are either from elsewhere or recent immigrants. They would encounter a community that is neither playing its part in politics nor getting involved with the rest of the world.

Hindus are clearly among the oldest inhabitants of Afghanistan. They are the native people, whom Islamic fundamentalism has turned into unprotected strangers. Strangers, who this year found themselves forced to argue for days with Muslims in the centre of Kabul in order to be allowed to cremate their dead in line with their tradition. Strangers who never dare to send their children to school for fear of mockery.

Upon meeting a Muslim, a Hindu is required to greet the Muslim first. If a Muslim is standing and there is a chair, the Hindu is not allowed to sit down on the chair.

According to MP Anarkali Honaryar, a representative of Sikhs and Hindus in the Afghan parliament, the majority of the country's 200,000 Sikhs and Hindus are now living abroad, and the number of people leaving Afghanistan for India, Europe and or Pakistan grows by the day.