SIKH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012: DOCUMENTARIES
The Sikhs of Kabul - A Forgotten Community
Directed by: Bobby Singh Bansal
Sikhs have been linked with Afghanistan ever since the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Devji, stopped here on his return from Baghdad and Mecca in the 16th century. In the 19th century, trade and commerce flourished in this region; a huge influx of Sikhs and Hindus settled in the Afghan capital, Kabul. These communities thrived and contributed immensely to the local economy and became part of the culture and heritage of Afghanistan. But many Afghan Sikhs and Hindus were caught up in the political crossfire during the 2001 American invasion that overthrew the Taliban regime. Many Sikhs fled in haste to neighbouring Pakistan, becoming refugees in order to preserve their identity. Those remaining in Kabul were targeted by Taliban factions and compelled to convert to Islam. Prior to 1992 there were approximately over 160,000 Sikhs in Afghanistan but as of 2012 the Sikh population has dwindled to a mere 1,500. Most of them live in apalling conditions within their sacred but damaged temples. Sanitation is a constant problem and for the children education remains elusive as there are no government funded schools. Today they barely make a living. This documentary is based on the personal testimonies of this forgotten community.