On Saturday, July 18, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that “India has decided to facilitate the return of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan to India.” The news came in a statement announcing the safe release of Mr. Nidan Singh Sachdeva, a leader of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan, who was kidnapped by terrorist groups in Chamkani district of Paktia province on June 22, 2020.
According to media reports, the Indian government is in the process of granting long-term, 5-year visas to approximately 700 Hindu and Sikh citizens of Afghanistan.
“The decision by the Modi government to step up to the plate and welcome persecuted religious minorities to India with open arms is commendable,” stated HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla, Esq. “This announcement is an important first step for India to play a leading role by alleviating the pain and suffering of religious minorities in the region,” Shukla said.
On April 9, 2020, the Hindu American Foundation wrote a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to take steps to address the plight of religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the granting of long term visas.
Religious minorities have been increasingly under attack in neighboring Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
As previously reported, HAF condemned the March 25, 2020 terrorist attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul, Afghanistan that left 25 dead and injured at least 8 others. About 150 people were inside the gurdwara at the time of the attack, including women and children.
In July 2018, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus en route to meet President Ashraf Gani, resulting in the deaths of 19 people and wounding 20 others. There are only an estimated 200 Sikh and Hindu families left in Afghanistan.