Human Rights

India to facilitate return of terrorised Hindus, Sikhs from Afghanistan

Photo: A group of Sikhs in Afghanistan mourning the death of their near one while in a funeral procession.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: Hindus and Sikhs facing security threats in Afghanistan will be resettled in India, the Narendra Modi government has said. The move comes amidst reports of Hindus and Sikhs in the land-locked South Asian nation facing discrimination on the basis of their religion, forced conversions, kidnapping of women and rape, assassinations and murders.

“We have been receiving requests from the Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, who want to move and settle down in India, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

The requests, Srivastava said, are resulting from a recent spurt in attacks on the Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan carried out by terrorists at the behest of their external supporters, an euphemism used by India for its western neighbour Pakistan, known for providing safe haven to terrorists and terrorist entities.

Officials said members of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are being provided visa by the Indian embassy in Kabul and once they reach New Delhi, their applications for refuge would be examined according to existing laws of the country.

The Afghan Hindus and Sikhs shifting to India can avail Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, but will have to wait for 5 years.

According to the Indian law, members of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh till Dec. 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants, but given Indian citizenship.

In case of naturalised citizenship, the law reduces the duration of residency from the previous 11 years to 5 years for people belonging to the six categories and countries.

Recently, India thanked the Afghanistan government for securing release of Nidan Singh Sachdeva, a leader of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan, who was kidnapped in Chamkani district of Paktia province on June 22, 2020.

“We convey our appreciation to the government of Afghanistan and tribal elders from the area, whose efforts secured the return of Nidan Singh,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement on July 18, while expressing concern on the targeting and persecution of minority community members by terrorists in Afghanistan.

India has been flagging the issue of safety of Afghan minorities as a mandatory condition for lasting peace in the troubled country in various international fora, including a meeting of regional partners on Afghanistan — ‘Strengthening Consensus for Peace‘ — hosted by the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in which 20 countries and international organisations, including the United Nations, participated on July 6.

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