On Sunday, India welcomed the first group of 11 Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan. Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was recently released from captivity after being kidnapped by Islamists, was also among them. The government of India has facilitated their arrival to India seeking permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
Two days back, Delhi BJP had issued a statement in which they named of eleven members of Sikh and Hindu community that came via a special flight as Nidan Singh, Makand Lal, Sanmeet Kaur, Balendra Singh, Charan Kaur Singh, Balvan Kaur Singh, Gurjit Singh, Manmeet Kaur, Mandeep Singh, Poonam Kaur and Praveen Singh. Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said, “With the enactment of the CAA, the refugees living in India will also get the status of Indian citizens and avail the benefits of various social welfare schemes and facilities of the government.”
#BREAKING: First delegation of Afghan Sikh families who sought refuge in India due to persecution and terror attacks in Afghanistan (by Pakistan based terror groups) have reached India. Nidan Singh Sachdeva also reaches New Delhi. BJP/AkaliDal leaders receive them at airport. pic.twitter.com/IIQwhpz9jE
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) July 26, 2020
The Sikh and Hindu group was welcomed into India by members of BJP and Akali Dal.
Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said in a tweet “1st group of 11 members of Sikh & Hindu minority community of Afghanistan, including Mr.Nidan Singh Sachdeva who was recently released from captivity, reached Delhi today. GoI is facilitating the return of Hindu & Sikh community members seeking permanent residency & citizenship in India.”
1st group of 11 members of Sikh & Hindu minority community of Afghanistan,including Mr.Nidan Singh Sachdeva who was recently released from captivity,reached Delhi today.GoI is facilitating return of Hindu & Sikh community members seeking permanent residency & citizenship in India pic.twitter.com/LKE0GB4ll2
— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) July 26, 2020
Indian mission in Kabul had earlier said that the eighth batch of stranded Indian citizens had left Kabul by Kam Air to Delhi. “Travel of some members of the Hindu and Sikh Community, interested in moving to India, was also facilitated,” they added.
Indian govt thanks Afghanistan officials
The external affairs ministry in a previous statement said that Afghan Sikhs and Hindus would get “short-term” visas initially. The ministry thanked the Afghanistan government for providing necessary support for safe returns of the 11 people. The statement read, “We appreciate the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families.”
ANI quoted Nidan Singh Sachdeva as saying, “I don’t know what to call Hindustan — whether it is my mother or my father — Hindustan is Hindustan.” He was abducted from the gurudwara in Afghanistan. He was beaten and forced to convert to Islam while in captivity. “I repeatedly told them I have my own religion and I would not convert,” he added.
India to bring 700 Hindus and Sikhs facing persecution in Afghanistan
India has planned to provide a home to 700 Afghans of Sikh and Hindu community who are constanly facing religious persecution, harassment and torture in the hands of Islamist radical groups. The MEA issued a statement after his release and blamed Pakistan for supporting extremists in the area. MEA said, “The targeting and persecution of minority community members by terrorists at the behest of their external supporters remain a matter of grave concern.”
Many members of the minority communities from neighbouring countries have shown interest in shifting to India. In December 2019, India passed Citizen Amendment Act to facilitate the citizenship process of the refugees. It came in to force on 10th Jan 2020. Since then, those who have been living in India and completed the formalities of stay and the required duration can now be eligible for Indian citizenship. Minorities from the neighbouring countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have applied for visas. CAA provides an easier route to citizenship offered the applicant can prove religious persecution in their home country.