Narinder Singh, the son of slain Afghan Sikh leader Avtar Singh Khalsa, Friday said he wants to contest the October parliamentary elections in Afghanistan from the seat apportioned to minority community even as the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan is yet to take a call whether it will allow him to contest as the last date for filing nominations was June 14.
Avtar Singh, who had been a candidate in the polls, was among those killed in a suicide attack in Jalalabad recently when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was visiting Jalalabad.
An official at Indian Embassy in Kabul said that for nomination to contest from minority community seat, the candidate had to submit 1,000 identity cards (taskira) of people extending their support. “Avtar Singh Khalsa had produced 1,000 taskira and was allotted election symbol. If Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan allows Narinder to contest, he will have to first submit 1,000 taskira with his nomination,” said the official.
The official added that there were many voices in Afghanistan, including two MPs, who are raising the demand that Narinder should be allowed to contest in place of his father. “There is pressure on the Afghan government and poll panel, but no decision has been taken yet,” said the official.
“Everyone has been telling me to contest. [SAD president] Sukhbir Singh Badal and other leaders have expressed solidarity with us [Afghan Sikhs]. I will run for the elections. My father attained martyrdom while fighting for the community. We will follow the footsteps of the Guru,” Narinder Singh told The Indian Express over phone on Friday from Kabul.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani had on Thursday visited Kabul to mourn the killings of Sikhs in the suicide attack.
Asked about sections of Sikhs declaring that they would leave Afghanistan after the suicide attack, Narinder Singh said, “Majority of those who are here will stay here only. Sikhs definitely want to move out, but no other country is giving them any concrete assurance about their rehabilitation if they move out.”
However, Sikhs in Jalalabad are not sure if they will back the candidature of Narinder if he is allowed to contest.
A family member of one of the Sikh leaders from Jalalabad killed in the suicide attack said Sikhs in Jalalabad feel that they lost so many members when they accompanied Avtar Singh Khalsa to meet Ghani. “We will take a decision next week. We are still mourning the deaths of our family members,” he added.