Afghan Hindus, Sikhs in Limbo While Stuck in India

Afghan Hindus and Sikhs who moved to India because of deteriorating security in their country are struggling with poor living conditions, and some families have even returned to Afghanistan.“We are in a situation that we have no option,” said Singh, a 24-year-old Sikh who lost his father, nephew and sister-in-law in a March 2020 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul’s Shor Bazaar area that killed 25 people. “We cannot go to Afghanistan, and we are stuck in India. We have not been relocated to the U.S. or Canada as we were promised.”In the aftermath of the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, about 200 Hindu and Sikh families left for India — some on special visas — in hopes of being relocated to a third country.As reported by The Associated Press, members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu diaspora — most of them based in Canada and Europe — agreed in August to sponsor the exodus to India, which is home to large Hindu and Sikh communities. Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack to a Sikh temple in Kabul on March 25, 2020.Several Canadian legislators also called for a program to grant Afghan Sikhs and Hindus special refugee status, but VOA could not verify whether any were successfully transferred to North America as a result.Last month about 40 Hindu and Sikh families returned to Afghanistan after staying in India for some nine months.Singh, who asked that his full name not be used, said that living in India was hard because “one cannot find a job, and we have no financial support.”Sarmeet Singh, 25, an Afghan Sikh who has been living in India since his father was assassinated in Herat, Afghanistan, two years ago, said the COVID-19 lockdown has made finding work “even more difficult.”Sarmeet, who has a 4-year-old daughter, said if circumstances don’t change, he’ll be forced to return despite the risk of violence.“If there are no suicide attacks and targeted killings, I and other Sikhs would return to our home country,” Sarmeet told VOA.An Afghan Sikh boy mourns the victims who were killed during an attack at Sikh religious complex during a funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 26, 2020.‘Sign of hope’Once home to thriving Sikh and Hindu minorities, Afghanistan has seen these communities shrink from an estimated 250,000 in the 1980s to less than 1,000 as a result of ongoing warfare and ...
10 Jun 2021 English United States News

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