Kabul Gurudwara attack – Retaliation or power tussle?

Policharcha.com | Updated: March 31, 2020, 3:26 IST

Gurudwara Karte Parwan in Kabul

As countries all over the world were struggling with a virus that knows no borders, on 25 March, a gunman stormed inside a 400-year-old Gurdwara complex in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul and claimed the lives of at least 25 people of the Sikh community.

The Islamic State was quick to claim the responsibility for the attacks, but before coming to any conclusions, one has to consider the current situation of Afghanistan, which has found itself amid a power tussle among various parties since the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in February.

According to the deal, US will withdraw its troops from a war-struck Afghanistan and in exchange Taliban will initiate peace talks with the Afghan Government. The possible exit of US has created a power deficit in the region where several terror outfits like Al Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic State, and other groups like Haqqani network, Tehrik-i-Taliban are trying to strengthen their footing.

On the national front, Afghanistan is also struggling with the political deadlock after the leader of the main opposition party, Abdullah Abdullah rejected the result of the latest election by terming them as fraudulent and announced to form a parallel government.

As reported by the Economic Times, one cannot rule out the involvement of Tehrik-i-Taliban, which is a radical terror outfit backed by ISI, the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan. Therefore, in the race to acquire control over a power-torn Afghanistan, several groups are announcing themselves by threatening minorities.

According to another school of thought, the attack is a deliberate attempt to harass the non-Muslim communities. The reason behind this hostility could be hatred based on religious differences or a retaliation to the recent developments in India like abrogation of Article 370, passage of CAA, and Delhi riots.

The gunman, named Abu Khalid al-Hindi, has been identified as an Indian citizen from the state of Kerala who had left India in 2018 to join the ISIL (ISIS) of Khorasan province in Afghanistan.

The eye-witnesses count the number of assailants three who brutally killed 25 and injured many, whereas the official statement by Afghanistan authorities identifies only a ‘lone-gunman’. 

The incident garnered international attention as the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres despised the terrorist attack in his statement and said, “attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable.”

PM Narendra Modi also condemned the attack during his address to the nation and said that he was “deeply saddened to hear about the terror attack.”

On 26 March, a day after the attack, local news agency reported that a bomb blast had occurred in proximity of the people who were carrying their lost ones to the crematorium.

This is not the first time when religious minorities like Sikhs and Hindus have been targeted. In July 2018, the IS claimed responsibility for bombing a gathering of Sikhs and Hindus in the city of Jalalabad which caused 19 deaths and left 20 injured.

The minorities have often complained of harassment and persecution at the hands of the Muslim majority. An Afghan MP, Narendra Singh Khalsa admitted that his people “often say that they cannot live in this country anymore.”

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