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Last update: January 2023

This profile includes people who belong to the Hindu or Sikh religions.

COI summary

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 approximately 150 at the end of 2021, compared to around 400 in the beginning of the same year. Out of those, fewer than 50 were reported to be Hindus. Reportedly, all of them were male and had their families in other countries. Most members of the small Sikh and Hindu communities resided in Kabul, but there were also reportedly smaller numbers in Ghazni and other provinces. In conjunction with the Taliban takeover, many Sikhs and Hindus sought resettlement outside Afghanistan and large parts of the remaining Sikh and Hindu communities have continued to leave Afghanistan since then [COI query on Hindus and Sikhs, 1.1, p. 2; Security 2020, 2.1, p. 56; Security June 2021, 2.1, p. 84; Society-based targeting, 2.6, p. 29; Targeting 2022, 6.6.3, pp. 150-152].

Hindus and Sikhs were recognised and protected as equal citizens with Muslims under the constitution of 2004. While the status of the constitution is not clear following the Taliban takeover, the de facto authorities have promised to protect the rights of Sikhs and Hindus. There have been concerns, however, in the Sikh and Hindu communities over their physical security since the Taliban takeover [Society-based targeting, 2.6, p. 29; Targeting 2022, 6.6.3, pp. 150-152].

ISKP have conducted attacks against the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan in recent years. 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 [Targeting 2022, 6.6.3, pp. 150-152; COI query on Hindus and Sikhs, 1.1, pp. 2-4; 1.4, p. 6; Anti-government elements, 3.6.2, p. 34;].

Sources indicate that Hindus and Sikhs celebrated discreetly in order not to provoke attention of Muslims and have inconspicuous places of worship [COI query on Hindus and Sikhs, 1.1, p. 2; Society-based targeting, 2.6, p. 29].

There were reports in the fall of 2021 that armed Taliban members had harassed Sikhs at their central temple in Kabul. Senior representatives of the Taliban met with Sikh and Hindu community leaders in December 2021. The Taliban gave security assurances and welcomed the communities to return to Afghanistan [Targeting 2022, 6.6.3, pp. 151-152].

On 18 June 2022, an armed attack was carried out on a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul. At least two persons were killed – a Sikh worshipper and a member of the de facto security forces, and seven others were injured. ISKP claimed the attack and furthermore stated that the attack was a response to a political debacle in India, where a politician previously had made remarks interpreted as an insult to the Prophet Mohammed. The de facto security forces intervened and tried to protect the Gurdwara  [Targeting 2022, 6.6.3, p. 151]. A bombing in a Sikh-owned shop close to a Sikh place of worship in Kabul City, which did not cause any casualties, was reported in July 2022 [COI Update 2022, p. 9].

Risk analysis

Acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. sectarian attacks). When the acts in question are restrictions on the exercise of certain rights of less severe nature or (solely) discriminatory measures, the individual assessment of whether they 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.

For individuals under this profile, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.

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: