Taliban is ‘particularly committed’ to protect rights of Hindus and Sikhs: Spokesperson of Taliban ‘Justice Ministry’

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Representational image of the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi
| Photo Credit: AP

The Taliban is in “continuous contact” with the Hindus and Sikhs of Afghanistan who were forced to flee and had their homes taken by warlords, said a senior official of the outfit’s ‘Justice Ministry’ on Monday. In a written statement to The Hindu, the representative said the Taliban will respect the property rights of the minority communities of Afghanistan and that they are “particularly committed” to defending the rights of Hindus and Sikhs in the country.

“The technical boards for the identification and verification of usurped lands under the supervision of the commission in the centre and provinces are in continuous contact with the Hindus and Sikh compatriots whose lands have been usurped,” said Hafez Barakatullah Rasuli, spokesperson of the Taliban’s ‘Justice Ministry’. Mr. Rasuli said the properties will be restored to the members of the Hindu and Sikh communities after “identification and verification” of their claims.

The head of the Taliban’s political wing, Suhail Shaheen, had told The Hindu last week that the outfit had constituted a commission with ‘Justice Minister’ Abdul Hakim Sharaee to restore property to the members of the two minority communities who were deprived of their homes and businesses by strongmen during the previous decades. An announcement was also made at this time informing that Narender Singh Khalsa, a former member of parliament in Kabul, had returned from Canada to Afghanistan after the Taliban had assured him that his rights would be respected.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is committed to ensure the rights of religious minorities, particularly Hindus and Sikhs in accordance with the provisions of Islamic Sharia. The Islamic Hanafi jurisprudence has detailed provisions regarding the rights of religious minorities and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is committed and determined to protect those rights,” Mr. Rasuli said. He added that a large delegation of the Hindus and Sikhs of Afghanistan held a meeting with ‘Justice Minister’ Sharaee a month ago in which the delegation kept their demands before the Taliban administration.

Randhir Jaiswal, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs here, had said last week that India considered the latest decision by the Taliban on restoring property to the minority communities a “positive development”.

The Taliban’s restructuring of the Afghan justice system drew criticism in the past as it was perceived to be violative of the “due process of law”. However, recent proclamations from the ‘Justice Ministry’ regarding restoring the rights of the minority communities have drawn attention.

The Taliban maintain that Hindus and Sikhs played a crucial role in maintaining commercial ties of the country with the region and that they served a unique purpose in the urban centres of Afghanistan till the 1980s when political disturbances prompted them to immigrate.

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