indica News Bureau-
A Hindu American group has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant asylum to the persecuted Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan.
“We respectfully urge you to take further action to alleviate the dire situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan who look to the secular Republic of India as the only safe haven in the region,” the Hindu American Foundation letter reads in part.
“On March 25, 2020, a terrorist attack on the prominent Dharamshala Temple in the Shor Bazar area of Kabul, Afghanistan tragically killed 25 people and injured at least 8 others. About 150 worshipers were inside the temple at the time of the attack including women and children,” said the HAF.
In a press briefing on March 26, 2020, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo acknowledged that “Terrorist attacks by ISIS…and al-Qaeda are increasing in the Sahel.”
Noting that this is just the latest example of religious minorities being persecuted in Afghanistan, HAF said in July 2018, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus en route to meet Afghan President Ashraf Gani, resulting in the deaths of 19 people and injuring 20 others.
“Today, there are only an estimated 200 Sikh and Hindu families left in Afghanistan,” it said.
HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla stated, “Hindu Americans are right to believe that the Indian government granting citizenship to the most vulnerable communities in the region seeking safe haven in India is a genuine humanitarian gesture that makes right at least some of the wrongs that exist in that part of the world,”
HAF’s recommendations to Prime Minister Modi is equally consistent with HAF’s position that the CAA should be expanded to include neutral language, specifically “Members of a religious or ethnic minority community who are unable to return to their home countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, and unable to obtain protection in those countries due to past or well-founded fear of future persecution on account of religion or ethnicity.”
Nevertheless, and in light of the recent terrorist attacks on Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, the humanitarian spirit and legal effect of CAA should now extend to present day religious refugees who have been left with no other option than to leave their home country and immigrate to the secular Republic of India.
“Whether it is India or the United States, we must act now before it’s too late. Innocent lives hang in the balance,” stated HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla, Esq.
The letter goes on to recommend that the Government of India take the following steps:
Grant legal entry and political asylum to any Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and other persecuted religious minorities currently fleeing Afghanistan with residency visas that last no less than five (5) years and with the option of applying for expedited citizenship;
Ensure that these religious minorities are eligible for government benefits such as physical and mental healthcare, education, economic or business loans, grants and other employment opportunities; and
Provide temporary housing to the refugees.
HAF’s request of Prime Minister Modi to grant asylum with the option of expedited citizenship to religious minorities currently fleeing persecution in the region is consistent with HAF’s long-standing position that the Indian government should give amnesty to religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who sought refuge in India, as codified by India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 11, 2019.