Back from Afghanistan, Sikhs pin hopes on getting Indian citizenship - ECAS Punjab

Back from Afghanistan, Sikhs pin hopes on getting Indian citizenship

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Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27

"They spit at us. They did not buy stuff from our shops. They threatened our children of killing the families if they did not covert to Islam. Worse, they attacked our gurdwaras, kidnapped our daughters and killed many," said septuagenarian Balwant Kaur while describing the sufferings at the hands of the Islamic forces in Afghanistan.

'Don't have documents'

Along with several others, I ran away from Afghanistan four years ago. No one has got citizenship so far. The government needs many documents to process our case, but we do not have those. — Kuldeep Singh, Afghan returnee

Hounded and persecuted for long yet putting up a brave fight for decades against the Islamic forces in Afghanistan, now Sikhs and Hindus want the Government of India to provide them citizenship immediately.

On a day when the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) assured a delegation of Afghanistan Sikhs and Hindus led by Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGMC) chief and BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa of providing short-term visas to 600 more Sikhs and Hindus stuck in the war-ravaged country, those who have returned hoped that they would get Indian citizenship.

Kuldeep Singh, whose nine family members, including a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped earlier, returned on Sunday, said the Government of India had extended full assistance, but it was yet to provide them citizenship.

Nine more relatives of Kuldeep landed in Delhi on Sunday. "The DSGMC is our saviour, but we don't know how our kids will study and how we will earn our bread and butter here," said Balwant Kaur.

"In Afghanistan, we were practically staying indoors since our gurdwara was attacked on March 24 by terrorists. My two brothers were among those killed in a gunfire," said Kuldeep Singh whose ancestors lived there for more than three centuries.

Sirsa said the Sikhs and Hindus were living in appalling condition in Afghanistan. "Our government is helping the Afghanistan government in many ways, but it has failed to protect Indians," he said.

Sirsa along with the affected families met JP Singh, Joint Secretary, who is handling the Pakistan-Afghanistan desk in the MEA, on Monday.

"We have been assured that India will issue visas to another 600 Hindu and Sikhs as soon as possible," he said, adding that those left out would get it at the earliest after filing applications.

He said the ministry had also assured to issue long-term visas.

from The Tribune

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