India facilitating visa requests of Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh minorities – world news

India said on Thursday it has been getting requests from members of the Hindu and Sikh minorities of Afghanistan to settle down in the country following a spike in terror attacks on these communities.

“There has been a recent spurt in attacks on the Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan. These attacks have been done by terrorists at the behest of their external supporters,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a weekly news briefing.

“We have been receiving requests from the members of these communities, they want to move to India, they want to settle down here. Despite the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we have been facilitating these requests,” he added.

The Indian embassy in Kabul is providing visas to members of the minority communities to come to the country. “Once they reach here, their requests will be examined and acted upon based on extant rules and policies,” Srivastava said.

After Nidan Singh Sachdeva, a leader of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan was released from captivity on July 18 after being kidnapped on June 22, the external affairs ministry had said the targeting and persecution of minority communities by terrorists was a “matter of grave concern”.

“In a recent decision, India has decided to facilitate the return of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan to India,” the ministry had said in a statement at the time.

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act provides for a speedy process for members of non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to seek refuge in India.

In a separate development, India has again asked Pakistan to ensure the safety of its minorities after a Gandhara-style Buddha statue found during the excavation of a house at Mardan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province was demolished on July 18 at the behest of an Islamic cleric.

This act was widely condemned and Buddhist monks in Gaya have condemned the vandalism, Srivastava said.

“We have expressed our concerns to Pakistan. We have conveyed our expectation that they would ensure the safety, security and well-being of minority communities there, as well as protect their cultural heritage,” he said.

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