Slain Leader Awtar Singh Khalsa a Beacon of Hope for Afghan Sikhs
Khalsa was scheduled to run unopposed for a lower house seat in the parliamentary elections slated for October.
Awtar Singh Khalsa, the Afghan Sikh leader who was set to represent the minority Hindu-Sikh communities in Parliament, was among the 19 people killed in an alleged suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad on Sunday, 1 July.
Khalsa, who was formerly a representative at the upper house of parliament, was scheduled to run for a lower house seat in the upcoming parliamentary elections in October.
According to AP, he was to have run unopposed on a seat demarcated for the Sikh and Hindu community through a presidential order passed in 2016. In an interview with AP, Khalsa had said that although he represented the minority, he would work for the peace of all Afghans across the country.
The Hindu-Sikh community in Afghanistan, which has now dwindled to a dismal 1,000 from over 80,000 in the 1970s according to AP, are among the few who have vociferously advocated for peace in the country.
In his interview with AP, Khalsa said:
We must try to save our people from this chaos. By any means and at any cost we must ask for our rights from the government. Your rights will not be given to you, you must earn them.
According to local reports, Khalsa was en route as part of a Hindu-Sikh convoy to meet Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, when the seemingly targeted attack took place.
The Indian Express reported that Khalsa, who headed the Afghan Sikh and Hindu Council, had been allotted a party symbol on Saturday, 30 June, for the elections.
Speaking to the daily, an Afghan official said that Khalsa had been invited by the President for a meeting in Jalalabad, and had travelled from Kabul for it. He had also reportedly kickstarted his campaign on Sunday.
Khalsa's son, Narinder Singh Khlsa, is also reported to have been injured in the attack. Khalsa is survived by his wife and four children.
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