27 Jul 2020
It's home: Persecuted in Afghanistan, 11 Sikhs arrive in Delhi
Written byShalini Ojha
The selected Sikhs were given short-term visas by the Indian Embassy in Kabul. One of the returnees said India feels like home. In fact, among those who arrived is a 15-year-old girl who was rescued from forced marriage and conversion.
Backstory: ISIS attacked gurudwara in Kabul, India condemned the incident
On March 25, a gurudwara at Kabul's Shor Bazar was attacked by terrorists, affiliated to ISIS. The armed assailants attacked the sacred place when 150 people were inside.
Days after the attack, a Pakistani national Mawlawi Abdullah, alias Islam Farooqui, and four of his aides were arrested.
India condemned the attack and called for protecting minorities in neighboring countries.
After attack, hundreds appealed to Shah for evacuation
After the attack, the Afghan Sikh community numbered less than 700, wrote to the Embassy and Home Minister Amit Shah.
This month an official of Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji Darbar Karte Parwan in Kabul informed that 11 people have been granted visas for six months.
They were brought to Delhi on a Kam Air flight under the Vande Bharat Mission.
MEA also thanked Afghanistan's government for support in "safe return"
Confirming about the visas, the Ministry of External Affairs said, "India has granted appropriate visas and facilitated their travel to India. We appreciate the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families."
Father, who came with injured daughter, hopeful of treatment
One Gurjeet Singh, who was fortunate enough to come to Delhi, said his eight-year-old daughter was injured in the attack.
"For the past three months, my daughter has been undergoing treatment after shrapnel hit her eye. I hope I can get her treated here," he said. Sadly, he lost two cousins in the attack.
"This feels like home," he told IE upon arrival.
Man who was abducted from gurudwara also returned to Delhi
Another person who came to Delhi was 55-year-old Nidan Singh Sachdeva.
An Afghan national living in Delhi on a long-term visa, Sachdeva was abducted in June from the Thala Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Gurdwara in Chamkani, where he had gone to perform sewa. He was released last month.
When he was held captive, his family wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought an Indian citizenship.
70-year-old who lost sons in attack arrived as well
Further, 70-year-old Balwant Kaur, who lost two sons and six relatives in the attack, also came to Delhi. She is also the grandmother of the 15-year-old, who was rescued from being converted to Islam.
A relative who came to receive her informed that Kaur's sons were performing ardas when the attackers entered.
Though the incident affected her mental health, she smiled to express pleasure.
Meanwhile, Sirsa confident that Sikhs will be given citizenship soon
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee's President Manjinder Singh Sirsa assured that most of the Sikhs will be brought from Kabul and efforts will be launched to get them Indian citizenship.
To note, the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) this year to give citizenship to persecuted Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians living in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.