A great deal is made by Muslims about the discrimination they face in non-Muslim majority countries, say India or US. But none of them compares that to the complete annihilation of others done with a vengeance in the Muslim majority countries.
The stories in Bangladesh and Pakistan are very similar in that such a large percentage of the Hindus and Sikhs were reduced to almost nothing. Afghanistan is worse. The Taliban rule left hardly any Hindu or Sikh presence.
Amitav Ghosh explains how Kabul now has only one last temple left – even that is a makeshift one – the Asha Mayi Mandir. True to its name, it has kept the hopes and love of the few remaining Hindus alive. There was a time when this temple and a Sikh Gurudwara were in the Center of Kabul. No more.
For centuries, Hindus and Sikhs have been living in Afghanistan and completely integrated into the Pashtun culture. In fact in Mahabharat, Shakuni the Uncle of Kauravas was from Gandhar. Afghanistan was Gandhar of Mahabharat. It is only when the hordes of barbaric Islamic warriors and plunderers came all the way to India, that the demography of this land changed for the worse. A demography which has now culminated in complete annihilation of any other hue than a single ideological one.
Sadly, when the Hindus and Sikhs left the city and that country, very few could even sell their properties. Most had their properties either seized or people just encroached upon them. The very same happened in Kashmir as well!
If diversity of thought and ideas is the hallmark and the lifeblood of a vibrant and alive Civilization, then entry of Islam in whatever way, renders that society as a Civilizational Desert. Afghanistan is a living example. For most part, Pakistan and Bangladesh are much of the way there as well.
In the Asha Mayi Temple, the caretakers have often had to conceal the murtis when the Taliban came in to Kabul. The author narrates an incident which is self explanatory:
One time, there was a jagaran and all the remaining members of the community were present in the temple. This attracted the notice of the Taliban who forced their way into the inner sanctum. “There were thirty of them squeezed into that little space. They looked here and there, expecting to see our murtis, but we had hidden them all. Only one nishana remained, the most important one, and it was right in front of them. But still they did not see it. The Devi had closed their eyes.”
But this generation of Hindus and Sikhs – handful of them left in Kabul, won’t remain for long. Their cremation grounds have been taken over by squatters and the encroachers are just not willing to leave.