Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was abducted from a gurdwara in Paktia last month, at IGI Airport in New Delhi on Su…Read More
NEW DELHI: In the middle of a global pandemic, a flight from Afghanistan on Sunday brought back to Delhi 60-year-old Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was abducted from Paktia province of Kabul in June and released from captivity on July 18 after a month of torture. Along with him were 10 others from the Sikh and Hindu communities, including children, who reached Delhi seeking refuge from the threat of religious persecution.
The Indian government facilitated the return of Sachdeva, one more Hindu-Afghan national and nine people from one Sikh family (five of them children) who lost other members of their household in the terrorist attack on a gurdwara in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar in March.
Sachdeva, like many Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan, came to India with his wife and children in the early 1990s to escape persecution and targeted attacks. Sachdeva goes back to Paktia every year to visit a gurdwara in his native place as he is the primary caretaker. This year too, despite the lockdown, he took a flight on April 13 and was soon abducted. His family wrote to PM Modi seeking the Centre’s intervention.
Sachdeva told TOI, “I will not go back again now. I have been tortured for a month and beaten up so many times by my abductors that my whole body hurts even now.” He and the 10 others will be kept in quarantine in Gurdwara Rakabganj guest house run by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.
The Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, if they choose to exercise it, will have the right to seek Indian citizenship under the CAA. This was indicated by the MEA recently.This is the first time the Indian government has openly pointed to the CAA as a route to citizenship for minorities in neighbouring countries. The Afghan government was initially indignant, but repeated abductions and terror attacks targeting the minority Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan might make it difficult for them to oppose it.
For nine others who arrived, it will be a new life born of tragedy. Balwant Kaur recalls how both her sons who were sewadars (caretakers) were killed in the Shor Bazaar attack. She points at a 14-year-old girl sitting next to her who is the daughter of one of her deceased sons. It turns out that girl was abducted from outside her house some days ago.
On their arrival, ministry of external affairs issued a statement to say that “around eleven members, belonging to the Sikh and Hindu minority community of Afghanistan, arrived in India today. Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was released from captivity on July 18, is also among those who reached Delhi today.”