Afghan Sikhs, Hindus ‘endangered minorities’, to be resettled in the US

The US Congress has sought to resettle persecuted religious communities to America

AFGHANISTAN-ATTACK/ [File] Afghan security personnel inspect inside a gurudwara, a Sikh religious complex, in Kabul after an attack on March 25 | Reuters

The United States of America is willing to open its doors to Afghan Sikhs and Hindus after they were described as “endangered minorities” in a resolution moved by the US Congress to resettle them in the country.

The resolution moved by Representative Jackie Speier—and supported by eight other members of the House—condemned the “targeted terrorist attacks” against the Sikhs and Hindus. The resolution expressed concern for Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan and recognised that the communities face “existential” danger. The community, which was once over 8,000 people, is now only 700, the resolution noted.

President Donald Trump has proposed settling 18,000 Afghan refugees in America in 2020, which is down from President Obama’s administration’s promise of 110,000 in 2016. This resolution will go a long way in strengthening the case for Sikhs applying to immigrate.

Sikhs and Hindus face threats from the Islamic State-Khorasan province as well as ISIS. The House also noted that Sikhs under the Taliban were forced to wear yellow armbands and discriminated against.

This is not the first time America has chosen to throw their weight behind the Afghan minorities. Post the bombing of the gurudwara in Kabul in March that killed 25, including a four-year-old girl, there has been growing awareness and unease over the vulnerability of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan

In June, 20 US senators across both parties wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prioritise their resettlement. “This administration has repeatedly highlighted protecting religious freedom as a top foreign policy priority,” the senators wrote.

The clamour to find a safe homeland for the Afghan Sikhs has been growing across the world. Canada, too, has made offers to open its doors. India has been vocal about the safety of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan after the bombing—choosing to work with Kabul closely—but the position has seems to have shifted.

Last month, India chose to facilitate the “return of Hindus and Sikhs seeking permanent residencies and citizenship in India” according to a tweet by spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, the ministry of external affairs, spokesperson. Srivastava tweeted, “1st group of 11 members of Sikh & Hindu minority community of Afghanistan,including Mr.Nidan Singh Sachdeva who was recently released from captivity,reached Delhi today. GoI is facilitating return of Hindu & Sikh community members seeking permanent residency & citizenship in India.”

Earlier, India had been hesitant to use the word citizenship with Afghan minorities, keeping in mind the sensitivities of Kabul, despite having passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. However, the kidnapping of Nidan Singh Sachdeva, seems to have changed that. Singh, a leader of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan, was kidnapped in Paktia province on June 22, 2020. Following the Afghanistan government’s efforts, he was released, but the foreign ministry had expressed concern over continued attacks on minorities by extremists.

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