Updated: February 8, 2021 8:25:06 am
EVER SINCE his son was born last October, Sunny Singh alias Manto (27), a small-time medicines and spices trader, would call his wife in Ludhiana several times a day from Kabul, eager to know what the baby was doing.
“He would say that he cannot wait to hold Gurvansh in his arms. He would say that once did, he would never leave him,” says Shivani aka Sneha, wife of Sunny, an Afghan Sikh who died in a blast at Kabul Saturday.
He never got to see his son’s face. As his last rites were done by members of the minority Sikh community in Kabul, his wife watched on video call.
“My husband had gone to Kabul in August last year and our son was born in October. He had not returned to Ludhiana since then. He was living in Kabul to earn for us but his heart and mind were always here. On Friday night, he spoke to me till late night and kept asking if the baby was doing fine. But he has died without seeing his son. There can’t be anything more unfortunate,” says Shivani (21) from Mundian Kalan of Ludhiana, who had got married to Sunny in February last year.
Sunny would travel to Kabul often to run his medicines and spices business at his shop in Shor Bazar. On Saturday, Sunny Singh died in the blast, while two other Sikhs — Sher Singh (60) and Chucha Singh (55) — were injured in the attack.
Harinder Singh Khalsa, another Afghan Sikh whose family lives in Meena Bazar of Ludhiana, while speaking to The Indian Express from Kabul, said, “Sunny, Chucha Singh and Sher Singh were in their shops in Shor Bazar when the explosion took place. The shops were completely damaged. Families of Chucha Singh and Sher Singh are also in Ludhiana. Sunny was born in Kabul and his cremation was done here only Saturday. His mother and brother are in Kabul but wife and son are in Ludhiana. He was planning to go to Ludhiana, but fate had some other plans.”
Khalsa said most members of the minority Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan have been rescued and sent to Delhi since the Islamic-State (IS) sponsored terror attack on Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul in March last year claimed at least 25 lives. However, those still left behind in the war-torn country are fighting an everyday battle for survival and are being forced to live hand to mouth.
‘We live in constant fear’
“A few members from the Sikh community are still left in Kabul, Jalalabad and other cities of Afghanistan. They are here by compulsion. They are really poor and cannot afford to leave the country because their work and business will be affected. Those who could afford to leave have already left for Delhi but those still left behind are the ones who are living hand to mouth. Sunny was one of those poor Sikhs who was living in Kabul to earn for his family and whatever few thousands he would earn, he would that money to his family in Ludhiana. We appeal to the Indian government to rescue remaining Sikhs from Afghanistan too, else they be killed very soon. We live in constant fear,” said Khalsa, adding “There are some 200-250 families of Afghan Sikhs from pishori biraadri who are in Ludhiana but their men keep traveling to Kabul for work”.
Shivani says that ever since she heard the news of her husband’s death, she has gone numb wondering what the future holds for her and her son, who is suffering from a heart ailment since birth.
“Hamare sar par chhat bhi nahi hai filhaal (We do not even have our own home as of now). I have been living with my brother. There can’t be a more unfortunate thing than my son not being able to meet his father even once in his lifetime. My father had died when I was just six months and my mother got me married last year,” says Shivani.
“Those from the Sikh and Hindu communities still left in Afghanistan should come back immediately. I used to stop my husband from going back to Kabul but he would say that if he does not go, how will he earn? He would say that if he doesn’t work, we won’t be able to make our own house. But after losing him, I can only say that life is more important than a house, money…Those left behind in Kabul should be saved immediately..,” she adds.
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