Saturday, December 2, 2023

Mission Evacuation: Returning Sikhs recount horror tales in Afghanistan

As part of attempts to evacuate the persecuted minority in the Taliban-led country, a special flight carrying 55 Afghan Sikh refugees from Afghanistan touched down at New Delhi airport on Sunday, September 25.

The Afghan Sikh refugees landed at the Indira Gandhi Airport in the nation’s capital on Sunday and were welcomed by Vikramjit Singh Sahney, the international president of the World Punjabi Organization and a member of Rajya Sabha. 

Notably, a special aircraft operated by Ariana Afghan was organised to evacuate these Afghan minorities by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandak Committee (SGPC) Amritsar in collaboration with the Indian World Forum and the Indian Government.

As the 55 Afghan Sikhs returned to India on Sunday, one of them narrated the sorry state of affairs in Afghanistan against the minorities. An Afghan Sikh– Baljeet Singh, who returned on the same flight, revealed the atrocities of the Taliban on Sikhs. 

“The condition is not very well in Afghanistan,” Baljeet Singh told ANI. Recounting the tales of Taliban atrocities, he said, “I was imprisoned for four months. Taliban have cheated us, they butchered our hair in prison.” 

Adding further Baljeet Singh said, “I am thankful and happy to return to India and to our religion. There are 11-12 people left behind who will also return soon, I hope,” ANI reported.

Another returning Sikh, Mansa Singh, a sevadar at Kabul gurdwara in Afghanistan, while speaking to ANI expressed his gratitude to PM Modi to help them return to India. “I would like to thank the Indian government and PM Modi to facilitate with e-visa and help us return to India,” Mansa Singh told ANI.

“The situation of Afghanistan is not hidden, we have come here for the safety of our kids, and urge the Indian government to evacuate our other 30 brothers who are left behind in Afghanistan,” he added.

“Since the Taliban took over the country situation is not under control, and an evacuation process was underway. The Government of India played a significant role and held talks with the Taliban to evacuate the Sikh nationals. We are working as a family and would like to thank all the teams and organisations who have helped in this,” Sahney told ANI.

He also said his organisation is running a programme ‘My Family My Responsibility’ under which 543 Afghan Sikhs and Hindu families have already been rehabilitated in West Delhi, PTI reported.

It is pertinent to mention that ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, there has been a series of attacks on Sikhs and other minorities. Earlier on June 18 this year, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacked Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul which claimed the lives of about 50 people.

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