• publish: 26 July 2020
  • time: 12:41 pm
  • category: Politics
  • No: 14501

First group of Afghan Sikhs expected to leave the country on Sunday

Eleven Afghan Sikhs are expected to leave Kabul on Sunday for India, after being granted visas by the Indian government.

Chhabol Singh, a community leader in Kabul, told India’s Sunday Express that among those leaving Sunday was Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was kidnapped in Paktia last month before being freed, and the 15-year-old girl who was recently rescued by police after also allegedly being abducted. 

“We have received six-month visas for 11 persons, including Nidan Singh who is still unwell after being tortured in captivity. He will be accompanied by a relative. 

“The families of the two brothers, who were killed in the Kabul attack (in March), will also leave. The daughter of one of them was recently rescued after an attempt to marry her forcefully,” said Chhabol Singh, who is a member of the managing committee of the Gurdwara in Karte Parwan in Kabul.

These latest developments come after the March attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul – an attack claimed by Daesh – that resulted in the death of at least 25 Sikhs.

Since then concerns have increased over the safety of the minority group in Afghanistan especially in view of negotiations expected between the Afghan government and Taliban over a possible peace agreement. 

Sunday’s move comes after the Afghan Sikh community made multiple appeals to the Indian Embassy in Kabul and wrote to India’s Home Minister Amit Shah seeking immediate evacuation and rescue after the attack on March 25.

The process stalled however due to the coronavirus outbreak and the grounding of international flights, the Sunday Express reported.

But earlier this month, the World Sikh Organization (WSO) also came out in support of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and updated the public on their efforts to have the Canadian government create a Direct Sponsorship Program for the group. 

Balpreet Singh, the spokesman for the WSO, said in a video posted on their Twitter page that the organization has been lobbying the Canadian government to allow the Afghan Sikhs to settle in Canada directly “without having to go to an intermediary country”. 

During the 1980s the Sikh and Hindu community numbered more than 80,000 but most left the country when the Soviet Union was ousted in 1992. 

Some returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted from power in the hope that things would improve. 

The Afghan government had encouraged their return but the community has faced vicious attacks claimed by Daesh during the past few years. Today, less than 700 live in their home country.

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