Eleven members of the Sikh community from Afghanistan, who were abducted, touched down in New Delhi on Sunday morning. The incoming delegation includes Nidan Singh Sachdeva who was abducted from a Gurudwara in Paktia province of Afghanistan last month.
Rest ten are families of the Afghan Sikhs who were killed in the Kabul Gurudwara terror attack earlier this year. More than 25 Afghan Sikhs and one Indian Sikh were killed on the March 25th Gurudwara terror attack in Kabul.
The group includes Salmeet Kaur who was reportedly kidnapped in Kabul but later came back. Hopes are high among the Sikh community that they will get Indian citizenship.
BJP Delhi chief Adesh Gupta, national secretary RP Singh and Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa welcomed the Afghan Sikhs with saffron stoles. All of them were visibly relieved to flee from a life of uncertainty. They were granted short-term visas by the Indian Embassy in Kabul
Ministry of External Affairs has recently announced
India’s decision to facilitate the return of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members. As the members are facing security threats in Afghanistan to India.
This is the first batch of the incoming persecuted Afghani minorities. The Home Ministry has approved the long term visas of 700 Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan.
The decision comes four months after an Islamic State-backed attack at a gurdwara in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar killed. There was a dastardly terror attack on a religious gathering at a Gurudwara in the heart of Kabul on 25thMarch. Over 25 Sikh men, women and children were killed in the attack and some where abducted.
Many members of the Sikh community are currently seeking refuge in the Kabul Gurudwara after fearing for their safety. Targeting of the community continued after a Nidan was abducted in June while going to a Gurudwara to perform sewa. He was subsequently rescued from the Haqqani network by Afghani forces.
Leaders of the Afghan Sikh community have appealed to the Indian government to accommodate the Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan. Also, to grant them legal entry with long term residency multiple entry visas.
India has condemned the
“targeting and persecution” of minority community members by terrorists in Afghanistan at the behest of their external supporters remains a matter of grave concern.
Once a community of nearly 250,000 people, the Sikh and Hindu in Afghanistan has endured discrimination and violence from extremists. And now, the community is estimated to comprise fewer than 100 families across the country.
Speaking to news agency ANI on his return, an emotional Sachdeva, said, “I don`t know what to call Hindustan. Whether it is my mother or my father. Hindustan is Hindustan.”
“I was abducted from the gurudwara and 20 hours later, I was covered with blood. I was tied to a tree as well. They used to beat me and ask me to convert into a Muslim. I repeatedly told them that why should I convert, I have my own religion,” he said while describing his ordeals.
Nidan Singh thanked the Government of India for bringing him here. He stated that the atmosphere of fear prevails there. He was torched and beat every day and every night. Indian mission in Kabul provided them necessary visas to come to India. Once they reach here, request for citizenship will be aimed and acted upon rules and policies.