New Delhi [India], July 26 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday thanked the Government of Afghanistan for extending necessary support for the safe return of 11 people belonging to the Sikh and Hindu minority community, including Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was kidnapped by the Taliban a month ago and was released from captivity recently.
Around eleven members, belonging to the Sikh and Hindu minority community of Afghanistan, arrived in India today. Sachdeva, who was released from captivity on July 18, is also among those who reached Delhi today.
"India has granted an appropriate visa and facilitated their travel to India," the MEA said in a statement.
"We appreciate the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families," the statement read.
The people were granted short-term visas by Indian Embassy in Kabul, including Sachdeva, who was abducted from a gurudwara in Paktia province last month.
Speaking to ANI on his return, an emotional Sachdeva, said, "I don't know what to call Hindustan -- whether it is my mother or my father -- Hindustan is Hindustan."
"I was abducted from the gurudwara and 20 hours later, I was covered with blood. I was tied to a tree as well. They used to beat me and ask me to convert into a Muslim. I repeatedly told them that why should I convert, I have my own religion," he said while describing
Nidan Singh thanked Government of India for bringing him here.
"I am more than thankful to the Indian government for bringing us here to our motherland. I have no words to describe my feelings here. I arrived here after much struggle. The atmosphere of fear prevails there. Gurudwara is where we can be safe but a step outside the Gurdwara is fearful," he said.
"They used to beat me every day and every night," he said further and added, "It is because of sheer happiness, I am speechless. I am very grateful to them."
Ministry of External Affairs recently announced that India has decided to facilitate the return of Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members facing security threats in Afghanistan to India.
The decision comes four months after a terror attack at a gurdwara in Kabul's Shor Bazaar killed at least 25 members of the community.
India has condemned the "targeting and persecution" of minority community members by terrorists in Afghanistan at the behest of their external supporters remains a matter of grave concern.
Leaders of the Afghan Sikh community have appealed to the Indian government to accommodate the Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan and grant them legal entry with long term residency multiple entry visas.
Once a community of nearly 250,000 people, the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan has endured years of discrimination and violence from extremists, and the community is now estimated to comprise fewer than 100 families across the country. (ANI)