NEW DELHI: The Taliban has said no harm will be done to gurdwaras in Afghanistan but who will take care of them now, asks Afghan Sikh MP Narendra Singh Khalsa, wondering what will happen to the Sikh religious places and property in the war-torn country once the rest of the community members move out.
The Afghan lawmaker, who arrived here from Kabul in a military transport aircraft of the IAF on Sunday, feels it is the "lowest point" for the Sikh community in Afghanistan.
"There were 1 million Sikhs in Afghanistan at one time. Now only a few hundred are left. They, too, are leaving," he says.
"What will happen to our gurdwaras now? This is what pains us the most. However, the Taliban has said no harm will be done to them," Khalsa told PTI.
According to the MP, there are around 72 gurdwaras in Afghanistan at present.
Sikhism founder Guru Nanak visited Afghanistan in the early 16th century and laid the foundation of Sikhism there.
According to reports, there were at least 2 lakh Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan until the 1970s.
Of the around 300 vulnerable Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the country, at least 60 have been brought to India as part of the evacuation mission that began on August 16, a day after capital city Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Khalsa says that a large number of senior politicians and members of Afghan parliament have fled the nation.
"Some MPs have fled to the UAE, Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the US. Some have joined the Taliban. Only around 30 of them are left in Afghanistan," he says.
"No one knows what will happen next. No one can predict. We came to India to protect our honour. We will try to make India our home. Whether we will return or not cannot be said," he adds.
Earlier in the day, 78 people, including 46 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, flew to Delhi from Kabul via Dushanbe on an Air India flight along with three copies of Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib.
Nearly 200 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are still stranded in Afghanistan.
These people have taken shelter at the Karte Parwan gurdwara in Kabul, which is close to the airport.
According to people sheltered in the gurdwara, the 10-kilometre-long drive to the international airport through various checkpoints is one of the biggest challenges in the rescue efforts.
Around 75 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are likely to be evacuated soon, said Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of the Indian World Forum, an organisation coordinating the evacuation efforts with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Till Tuesday evening, India had brought over 800 people from Afghanistan as part of the evacuation mission that began on August 16.
Thousands of Afghans have been crowding around the Kabul airport for nearly a week, in a desperate attempt to flee the country fearing the Taliban's brutality.
India is carrying out the evacuation missions in coordination with the US and several other friendly countries.