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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Kabul to have 'mini city' for Afghan Sikhs

Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times  Patiala, July 31, 2013
First Published: 10:37 IST(31/7/2013) | Last Updated: 10:44 IST(31/7/2013)

The Afghanistan government will build a 'mini city' for the rehabilitation of Sikhs in Kabul. This was stated by Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh MP from Afghanistan.

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Honaryar (30) is here for the first South Asian Punjabi conference, which began at Punjabi University on Tuesday.

She said houses (100 sq-ft area) as well as schools would be built in the 'mini city', besides a cremation ground. "Most of the Sikhs residing in Afghanistan run small businesses," she added.

She said the Afghan government had opened two Punjabi schools named after Guru Nanak in Kabul province and another in Jalalabad province.

Honaryar said, "Due to the unrest in Afghanistan, many Afghan Sikhs migrated to India and Europe. Efforts are being made to provide a congenial environment for facilitating their return," she said.

She added that the population of Afghan Sikhs, which was more than 60,000 about two decades ago, had gone down to 3,000.

"Women in Afghanistan are the worst affected as their parents, a majority of them from the business community, marry them at the age of 13 or 14 years, when they are not yet fully educated and grown up," she said.

Presiding over the conference, Punjabi University vice-chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh said the university's efforts had motivated the Uttarakhand and West Bengal governments to set the ball rolling for establishing Punjabi academies in their states.

"West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already committed to donate 5 acres for the academy to be named after Guru Nanak," he said.

Delegates from several south Asian countries are participating in the two-day conference.

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