Vet­eran Afghan Sikh leader Kha­jin­der Singh passes away in Delhi

Work­ing for three decades with peo­ple who have un­der­gone a trauma of one kind or an­other can be a trau­matic ex­pe­...

For the last thirty years, Kha­jin­der Singh had made his vo­ca­tion to sup­port the Afghan Sikh repa­tri­ates com­ing from Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan flee­ing the per­ilous sit­u­a­tion in the war-torn coun­try.  He passed away last evening fol­low­ing a mas­sive heart at­tack. He came to Delhi in 1990 it­self when the trou­bles started in Afghanistan and has since then has been the ‘Man Fri­day’ to many an Afghan Sikh in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily. He not only pro­vided sup­port in In­dia but en­abled not hun­dreds but thou­sands to go to the West, de­spite all odds. It is a trib­ute to his hard work that all Afghan Sikhs who are now vis­i­ble in the UK, USA, Eu­rope, Canada and other parts of the world, have had some as­so­ci­a­tion with him and his Afghan Sikh and Hindu Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion through which he main­tained live links with the In­dian gov­ern­ment and the UN­HCR of­fices in Delhi.

WHEN I SPOKE TO HIM JUST A FEW DAYS BACK, PRIOR TO THE AR­RIVAL OF THE SEC­OND BATCH OF AFGHAN SIKHS TO NEW DELHI,  KHA­JIN­DER SINGH KHU­RANA told me that in view of the stren­u­ous cir­cum­stances in which the Sikhs are com­ing from Afghanistan, he had post­poned his trip to Lon­don to meet his fam­ily there.  He spoke to me for more than an hour and spelt out all the minute de­tails of the arrange­ments that he and his team were mak­ing for the ar­rival of the Kabul San­gat.

He was wor­ried about the fact that Sikh or­gan­i­sa­tions en­gaged in the wel­fare of the Afghan Sikhs should not work at log­ger­heads with each other and to that end, he was re­cep­tive to sug­ges­tions. He had drafted an open let­ter for Sikh or­gan­i­sa­tions call­ing a spade a spade and was nice enough to dis­close the con­tents of the same, even though it was my sec­ond tele­phonic in­ter­ac­tion with me.

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In view of the volatile sit­u­a­tion and with the last hun­dreds of Afghan Sikhs wait­ing in the wings for de­par­ture to In­dia, I re­quested him to ei­ther re­word the let­ter or drop it al­to­gether. He agreed and as much as I know he did not make an is­sue of any­thing.

Work­ing for three decades with peo­ple who have un­der­gone a trauma of one kind or an­other can be a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence it­self.  It is not pos­si­ble to ap­pease every­one, yet Kha­jin­der Singh took every­thing in his stride.

Last year in De­cem­ber 2019, he presided over a meet­ing of well-wish­ers of Afghan Sikhs in Delhi, where there were in­vi­tees from Afghanistan, the USA and many from In­dia and Delhi. Harsaran Singh of the Global Sikh Coun­cil, who at­tended the meet told WSN on the phone about his fond mem­o­ries of Kha­jin­der Singh’s per­son­al­ity. He said, “He was a very gen­tle and sober-minded per­son, full of hu­mil­ity. Ris­ing from a hum­ble back­ground he be­came a well-known busi­ness per­son in the Delhi Sikh com­mu­nity.”

“While he is mostly known for his con­cern about the well-be­ing and safety of Sikhs left be­hind in his home­land Afghanistan, few peo­ple know that he was also con­cerned about fu­ture of Sikhs in other con­flict zones like Kash­mir and the fu­ture of Sikh youth there, which he dis­cussed dur­ing the meet­ing.”...

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