Afghanistan Consul General in New York Abdul Satar Haqbin mourns with community
HICKSVILLE, NY(TIP): The gory incident of the slaying of 19 Sikh and Hindu community leaders in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on July 1 came alive before the eyes of the gathering at Gurdwara Nanak Darbar here on July 5. The Afghani Singh and Hindu community which has a large presence in this part of New York organized an Akhand Paath in the memory of their slain brethren. The Sikhs who immigrated from Afghanistan after having suffered for years set up a Gurdwara by the name Gurdwara Nanak Darbar while the Afghani Hindus set up a temple by the name Asa Mai Hindu Temple. Both shrines are located in the vicinity of each other in Hicksville. The entire community which immigrated from Afghanistan is close knit and share their joys and sorrows.
So it was when the Akhand Paath Sahib in the memory of those killed was organized by the Sikh sangat of Gurdwara Nanak Darbar. Members from Asa Mai Mandir and from other Hindu temples came to pay their tribute to the dear departed ones. Many had known those who were killed. In particular, Rawail Singh and Avtar Singh who were political leaders of the Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, were household names.
Speaking on the occasion, Afghanistan Consul General in New York, Abdul Satar Haqbin said he was both “happy and sad”. Happy that he was with the community in a Sikh temple which he had always wanted to visit. And sad because of the tragic incident in Afghanistan on July 1 in which 19 Hindu and Sikh community leaders were killed. Among the killed were young and old, professionals, businessmen and workers. The gory incident has made government, parliament, and people of Afghanistan sad.
Speaking about the turn of the events in Afghanistan, the Consul General said that Afghanistan was a very peaceful country until 40 years ago. But after Russia invaded Afghanistan, peace deserted the country and all kinds of problems started. But, “we have to regain peace”, said the CG. Sikhs and Hindus have made great sacrifices for Afghanistan. They have laid down their lives for the country. They have bravely served in the military. “I thank the Sikhs and the Hindus” for their sacrifices and contribution to Afghanistan. Haqbin was sad to recall how once upon a time there were 200,000 Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan and now only a handful were left there.
The Sikhs and the Hindus are held in high esteem. No sooner than the reports of the killings came in, the governor and senior officials visited the site of the incident and the gurdwara to express their condolences. They felt concerned for the Hindu and Sikh community and expressed their support to them.
The Consul General paid his tribute to those killed and said he will ensure all possible help to the bereaved families.
The Consul General was honored with a siropa.
The Gurdwara General Secretary Harcharan Singh Gulati who has been in constant touch with the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan, said that the Sikhs have been living in Afghanistan for the last hundreds of years. He spoke feelingly about the Sikh historical gurdwaras in Afghanistan and recalled how Rawail Singh and Avtar Singh stayed back only to look after those gurdwaras. They are “true martyrs”, Gulati said.
A number of community leaders, Gurdwara and Mandir managers and intellectuals, who included, among others, Dr. Amarjit Singh, Giani Jagtar Singh Jachak, Prof. Indrajit S Saluja, Paramjit Singh Bedi, Mohan Singh, Virenderpal Singh Sikka, spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, a large number of Sikhs and Hindus participated in the Bhog of Shri Akhand Paath Sahib and listened to Gurbani Kirtan.