Thu, 28 Sep 2023

By Saurabh TrivediNew Delhi [India], August 3 (ANI): In an emotional testimony, a 62-year-old woman who is a victim of religious persecution in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan narrated the ordeal of being called 'Kafir' after living in Afghanistan for three generations.

On Wednesday, a total of 28 more Sikhs including women, children and infants, arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport from Kabul.

A non-scheduled commercial flight from Kabul, operated by Kam Air arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. The entire group will be leaving for Gurdwara Sri Guru Arjan Dev in Tilak Nagar of the national capital, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said.

Surjeet Kaur, who has arrived along with her three-year-old granddaughter and other family members said that it has become difficult to survive in Kabul where they have lived there for three generations.

"Whatever be the situation in Afghanistan but Sikhs were never targeted. We have lived here peacefully for generations but things have worsened after the Taliban took over. I thank the Indian government and Sikh people in India for rescuing them," she said.

Religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the Sikh community, have been a victim of repeated targets of violence in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country.

"Situation was bad, what to say. We left everything there, we don't want to get killed there," said Harbans Kaur and Jagtar Kaur.

All Sikh people who arrived at the airport told that for the last one year they were staying in Gurudwara because it is unsafe to live outside but on June 18 Taliban attacked Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Guru Gobind Singh Karte Parwan in Kabul.

Mahender Singh, who was in the business of herbs in Kabul, said that situation is very bad in Afghanistan. He is thankful to the Indian Government and his Sikh brothers for bringing them back to India where he can live safely.

"The situation is very bad there (Afghanistan), it's getting worse day by day. We are very thankful to the Government of India, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for helping us and bringing us to Delhi in such precarious times. This has been the situation under the Ashraf Ghani government too. It's not just the Taliban, other organizations too try to harm us in Afghanistan. They are targeting Sikhs to bring a bad name to Afghanistan. Some of our relatives are still stranded there, around 7-8 guys, who were born there. We urge GoI to issue them the visa at the earliest," said Mahender Singh.

Another Afghan Sikh, Manmohan Singh said that he doesn't want to talk about the situation that he and his family has suffered in Kabul.

"Our lifetime savings have been destroyed in a couple of months. Fearing for our life, we have just fled leaving behind all memories, home and business. We will make a fresh start in India with the help of the Indian Government," said Singh.

"I had to come here as there were no jobs there. Around 100 more Sikhs are stranded there. I would like to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SGPC for flying us back safely here to India. We would like to settle in India now," said Manmohan Singh.

All Afghan Sikhs who have arrived at Delhi airport have thanked the Indian government and requested to bring back the remaining Sikh people stranded in Afghanistan.

Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee, Amritsar continue to facilitate the evacuation of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs to India in coordination with the Government of India and the Indian World Forum.

In the last two months, Afghan monitories have been repeatedly targeted there. Their airfare has been borne by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee (SGPC). 32 have been evacuated earlier.

It has been informed that 110 still remain in Afghanistan and 61 e-visa applications are pending with the Government of India for issuance.

The evacuees have been accommodated in Gurdwara Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Tilak Nagar, New Delhi. They are likely to be rehabilitated by World Punjabi Organisation, Sobti Foundation and other social organisations.

There were about 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in 2020, but a large number of them left the country following the Taliban's takeover on August 15, 2021. (ANI)

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