Days after a small batch of 11 Sikhs shifted to India on July 26, at least 700 more persecuted people are expected to arrive here, with the second batch of about 70 coming tomorrow.
The demographics of Afghanistan which till the 1970s included about one percent Hindu and Sikh minorities, would now have no mention of these communities after a few days as all most all the remaining Hindus and Sikhs are likely to shift to India.
According to the Indian sources aware of the development in Afghanistan, the Embassy of India in Kabul has already issued a visa to at least 75 more Sikhs.
The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee President Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that the Government of India has agreed to provide long term visa arrangements to all the persecuted Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan who wish to return to the Indian land.
The flight is scheduled for August 4 for this batch and the sources have informed that the Embassy of India is pursuing Afghan Airlines – KamAir to give travel concessions to these travelers.
Why Are Afghan Sikhs, Hindus Shifting To India After Years Of Settlement?
Since a terror attack by an IS gunman killing 25 Sikhs at Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul on March 25, there have been continuous appeals from the Sikh community all over the world to the Indian government for “immediate evacuation”.
Earlier, in July 2018, a suicide bomb attack in Jalalabad that killed at least 19 Sikhs and Hindu also made them contemplate leaving Afghanistan but the March 25, 2020 attack made every Sikh in Afghanistan decide to leave at the first available opportunity.
Until the 1970s, there were at least 2 lakh Sikhs and Hindus (in a 60:40 ratio) in Afghanistan which reduced to around 40,000 in 2002. As of 2013, there were about 8000, just 1000 in 2019, and currently, not more than 700 Sikhs and Hindus are there in Afghanistan.
Out of 700 Sikhs and Hindus, most of them live in Kabul, a few in Jalalabad, and two families in Kandahar. The Sikh community living in Peshawar, Pakistan has asked the Sikhs of Jalalabad to shift to Peshawar, home to the largest number of Sikhs in Pakistan. But they are more interested in shifting to India.
According to Sikhs in Kabul, it is painful for them to leave their houses and the place where they were born and lived throughout life but now they have no other option as their life in Afghanistan is not secure. Those who have businesses, shops, and houses are forced to sell their properties at throwaway prices.
Member of Parliament representing the Sikh and Hindu minority quota, Sardar Narinder Pal Singh, the son of Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was also MP in Afghanistan and who along with other Afghan Sikh leaders and activists was killed in a suicide bomb attack in 2018, hopes that with “Afghan peace talks” the situation will improve and all the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus will return to Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Harinder Singh, a shop owner in Kabul, who used to persuade fellow Sikhs against leaving Afghanistan, is now convincing everyone including fellow Muslims to leave Afghanistan, after he lost her three-year-old daughter, wife, and father on March 25 Gurudwara attack.