Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar, who is on a three-day visit to India, denied on Tuesday that Hindus and Sikhs are being targeted in Afghanistan. Atmar said that the violence against Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan was not ‘persecution per se’. “The violence against Afghans, unfortunately, did not spare our minorities either. So, it is not a kind of persecution against specific minorities per se. It’s the general violence against the entire nation and unfortunately, this part of the population has been disproportionately affected”, Atmar said.
Atmar described Hindu and Sikhs as proud citizenry of Afghanistan
Atmar described Hindus and Sikhs as ‘proud citizenry’ of Afghanistan adding that it would be the responsibility of the government to provide them with protection and security. “They are citizens of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is proud of them. It has been like that for centuries and will be like that. It is the responsibility of not just the Afghan government, but the Afghanistan people too to protect their federal brothers”, he said.
Atmar held talks with Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on security and economic cooperation and collaboration on efforts to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. While interacting with the media, Atmar described India as a ‘legitimate partner in peace-making’.
A group of Sikhs had returned to India last year
Last year in July, India had said that would facilitate a settlement of Afghan and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan. There are reportedly around 1000 Sikhs and Hindus left in Afghanistan. A group of 11 Sikhs had arrived in India from Afghanistan including Sikh leader Nidan Singh Sachdeva who was abducted by Islamists, after the enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The government of India facilitated their arrival to India, seeking permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
The numbers of religious minorities living in Islamic countries have been diminishing due to persistent violence and persecution. This is the reason that the Indian government enacted the CAA to provide Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities in neighbouring Islamic countries.