Eleven members of Sikh community from Afghanistan, who were granted short-term visas by Indian Embassy in Kabul, including Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was abducted from a gurudwara in Paktia province last month, landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning.
Ministry of External Affairs recently announced that India has decided to facilitate the return of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan to India. The decision comes four months after an Islamic State-backed attack at a gurdwara in Kabul's Shor Bazaar killed at least 25 members of the community.
India has condemned the "targeting and persecution" of minority community members by terrorists in Afghanistan at the behest of their external supporters remains a matter of grave concern.
Here are 10 things to know about the Afghan Sikhs who were repatriated to India:
1. The repatriation process was immediately initiated by the Indian Government after perturbing reports of rampant security threats, human rights violations, and decimated on the minority communities surfaced.
2. India is facilitating the entire process of returning of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan and extended a helping hand despite the ongoing pandemic.
3. Approximately 700 Hindu and Sikhs Afghan Nationals have registered with Embassy of India in Kabul and are seeking an immediate return to India.
4. Delhi based Sikh Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was kidnapped by terrorists there and was later rescued by security agencies, told ANI, "I don't know what to call Hindustan -- whether it is my mother or my father -- Hindustan is Hindustan." "I was abducted from the gurudwara and 20 hours later, I was covered with blood. I was tied to a tree as well. They used to beat me and ask me to convert into a Muslim. I repeatedly told them that why should I convert, I have my own religion."
5. "We appreciate the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families," the MEA said.
6. The Indian Embassy in Kabul is providing them necessary visas to come here and once they reach here, their requests will be examined and acted upon based on existing rules and policies, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told PTI.
7. The members of US-based Global Sikh Council (GSC) on Sunday appreciated the Government of India for facilitating 11 people belonging to the Sikh community from Afghanistan, who had been the target of extremist atrocities.
8. Leaders of the Afghan Sikh community have appealed to the Indian government to accommodate the Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan and grant them legal entry with long term residency multiple entry visas.
(Inputs from Agencies)