Days after an abducted Sikh leader was finally released in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has reportedly approved long-term visas to 700 Sikh and Hindus currently living in Afghanistan. According to Kashmiri journalist Aditya Raj Kaul, such long-term visas are granted only to persecuted minorities in the region.
As per the report, the Indian government is fulfilling all necessary formalities to bring the said Afghan nationals to India before Independence Day. The report noted that about 600 Sikhs had applied for such long-term visas to India after the attack on Gurudwara that occurred on March 25 this year and left 27 dead.
A government official informed, “To begin with, over 700 such individuals have been identified and the required formalities are underway to bring them to India before 15 August.” Reportedly, the Afghan minorities who will arrive in India include those who have received security threats and have relatives in India.
It is notable here that there are very few Sikh and Hindu communities left in Afghanistan’s Muslim majority regions controlled mostly by Islamic hardliners. India’s CAA last year had eased the process for persecuted minorities in neighbouring Islamic countries to gain Indian citizenship.
Abducted Sikh leader released in Afghanistan
India had earlier thanked the Afghan leadership for its efforts in facilitating the release of 55-year-old Nidan Singh Sachdeva, an Afghan Sikh community leader. He was abducted a month ago from a gurudwara in the Pakita province of Afghanistan and got released on Saturday.
Anurag Sachdeva, spokesperson Ministry of External Affairs expressed appreciation to the Afghan leadership, security forces and tribal elders. The Indian government has hinted that if he applies for Indian citizenship under Citizen Amendment Act, the government will process the request. Sachdeva had moved to India in the 1990s with his family and is eligible for Indian citizenship.