How will India ensure safety of Afghan Hindus, Sikhs from Taliban violence? Govt answers
- Last week, the Taliban allegedly removed Nishan Sahib, a Sikh religious flag, from a gurdwara in eastern Afghanistan, but was restored after widespread criticism.
India is closely monitoring all the developments regarding Hindu and Sikh minorities living in Afghanistan, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday as the situation in the war-torn region continues to deteriorate with the Taliban making rapid gains. Citing the earlier efforts by the government to protect the minorities in Afghanistan, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly press briefing that the Indian embassy in Kabul is in touch with the Hindus and Sikhs residing in Afghanistan.
“Last year, our mission in Kabul had facilitated the return of 383 members of the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan. Our mission continues to remain in touch with the Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members and we will ensure the provision of all necessary assistance to them,” Bagchi said.
Last week, the Taliban allegedly removed Nishan Sahib, a Sikh religious flag, from a gurdwara in eastern Afghanistan, but was restored after widespread criticism. Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of the Indian World Forum, said the caretaker of the gurdwara informed him that several Talibs revisited the place and agreed to its “functioning as per customs,” reported news agency ANI.
According to a US report on international religious freedom in Afghanistan, approximately 200 Sikhs and Hindus fled to either India or Western countries in 2019 because of security threats and a “perceived lack of government protection.” In 2018, about 500-600 members of Hindu and Sikh communities left the country fearing religious persecution.
“Their members continued to avoid settling disputes in the courts due to fear of retaliation and instead chose to settle disputes through community councils,” the report says.
The gains made by the Taliban has renewed the security concerns for the religious minorities in Afghanistan. The external affairs ministry spokesperson said the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan is of concern and the government is in touch with all the stakeholders for peace and stability in the country.