New Delhi, Sep 24 (PTI) Over 350 members of minority communities in Afghanistan have arrived in India since the start of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday, expressing concern over the targeted persecution of minorities there by terrorists and their sponsors.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the ministry has been receiving requests from Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan for permission to settle down in India and such pleas have gone up since the attack on a gurdwara in Kabul in March.
'We see a targeted persecution of the minority community members by terrorists and their sponsors and this is a matter of serious concern. Now, to ensure their safety and well-being, our mission in Kabul has been actively in contact with them and they have facilitated their smooth arrival from Afghanistan despite the COVID-related restrictions,' Srivastava said.
'So far, 357 members of the minority community have arrived from Afghanistan to India since the lockdown and the Indian Sikh community here is also assisting in making their stay comfortable in India,' he said.
A nationwide lockdown was first imposed from March 25 for 21 days in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
To a separate question on whether an invitation has been received from Russia for the SCO and BRICS summits and if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would participate, Srivastava said, 'We are in discussion with the Russian side to finalise a date for the summit and we will make an announcement as per standard procedure.' On another question on the extradition of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik from Malaysia, he said the Indian side was in touch with the Malaysian government and are following up on his extradition.
To questions on the Kerala gold smuggling case, Srivatava said he would not be able to share specific details since the matter was under investigation and the ministry was looking into aspects like the MoU signed between the state government and a UAE NGO from the legal angle. PTI ASK SMN SMN