Last update: November 2021
This profile includes people who belong to the Hindu or Sikh religions.
There are no exact numbers available of Hindus and Sikhs currently living in Afghanistan. The numbers have steadily decreased over the past years. It is estimated that there were around 700 000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in the 70s, around 220 000 in 1992 and a few hundreds or thousands today. Hindus and Sikhs currently mostly live in Nangarhar, Ghazni and in Kabul.
Under the Constitution and laws, Hindus and Sikhs were recognised and protected as equal citizens with Muslims. No incidents of mistreatment by the former State actors or by the Taliban were reported during 2018 to 2020. Members of these minority communities sometimes served in the former government.
Attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, including killings, by ISKP in places of worship have been reported. Furthermore, Hindus and Sikhs have encountered crime incidents because of their perceived wealth, land-grabbing, societal discrimination, harassment, and some reported instances of societal violence in Afghanistan.
Sources indicate that Hindus and Sikhs celebrated discreetly in order not to provoke attention of Muslims and have inconspicuous places of worship. A survey released in February 2019 showed that almost all Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan feared for their personal safety (96.8 %), mostly to encounter ISKP (90.6 %). UNAMA expressed its concern that more than 80 % of civilian casualties in 2020 attributed to ISKP were caused by attacks deliberately targeting civilians, such as civilians at educational facilities and civilians belonging to religious minority populations such as Shia Muslims and Sikhs, with several examples of such attacks recorded in Kabul City. On March 2020, an ISKP-claimed gunmen attack on a Sikh temple and housing complex in the Shorbazaar area was reported, taking 80 people hostage, killing 26 civilians and injuring 11 more in an hours’ long siege [Security June 2021, 2.1].
There are also reports of instances of societal discrimination against Hindus and Sikhs, including in the fields of employment, education, and performance of religious rituals.
The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. sectarian attacks). When the acts in question are (solely) discriminatory measures, the individual assessment of whether discrimination could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures.
The situation of Hindus and Sikh has to be assessed in light of the recent takeover by the Taliban. However, information concerning the policies the Taliban intend to pursue towards these minorities is limited. The risk of targeting by ISKP should also be examined. Currently, it is assessed that not all individuals under these profiles would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, in particular their area of origin (e.g. areas where ISKP has operational capacity), etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that persecution of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan is highly likely to be for reasons of religion.
See other topics concerning ethnic and/or religious minorities: