Today, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the continued persecution of religious minorities in Afghanistan, urging him to grant asylum with the option to apply for expedited citizenship to those currently being targeted for their religion.
“We respectfully urge you to take further action to alleviate the dire situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan who look to the secular Republic of India as the only safe haven in the region,” the HAF letter reads in part.
The letter goes on to recommend that the Government of India take the following steps:
- Grant legal entry and political asylum to any Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and other persecuted religious minorities currently fleeing Afghanistan with residency visas that last no less than five (5) years and with the option of applying for expedited citizenship;
- Ensure that these religious minorities are eligible for government benefits such as physical and mental healthcare, education, economic or business loans, grants and other employment opportunities; and
- Provide temporary housing to the refugees.
HAF’s request of Prime Minister Modi to grant asylum with the option of expedited citizenship to religious minorities currently fleeing persecution in the region is consistent with HAF’s long-standing position that the Indian government should give amnesty to religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who sought refuge in India, as codified by India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 11, 2019.
“Hindu Americans are right to believe that the Indian government granting citizenship to the most vulnerable communities in the region seeking safe haven in India is a genuine humanitarian gesture that makes right at least some of the wrongs that exist in that part of the world,” stated HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla, Esq.
Furthermore, HAF’s recommendations to Prime Minister Modi is equally consistent with HAF’s position that the CAA should be expanded to include neutral language, specifically “Members of a religious or ethnic minority community who are unable to return to their home countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, and unable to obtain protection in those countries due to past or well-founded fear of future persecution on account of religion or ethnicity.”
Nevertheless, and in light of the recent terrorist attacks on Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, the humanitarian spirit and legal effect of CAA should now extend to present day religious refugees who have been left with no other option than to leave their home country and immigrate to the secular Republic of India.
“Whether it is India or the United States, we must act now before it’s too late. Innocent lives hang in the balance,” stated HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla, Esq.
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.
In a press briefing on March 26, 2020, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo acknowledged that “Terrorist attacks by ISIS…and al-Qaeda are increasing in the Sahel.”