Abducted Sikh's wife appeals to PM as Afghan gets more risky for minorities
Nidan Singh was abducted earlier this week
Nidan Singh. Photo: Twitter
Tribune News Service New Delhi, June 26
The wife of a Sikh man abducted in Afghanistan has asked for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to have her husband freed and then granting Indian citizenship to her family of six.
Attacks on Sikh minorities in Afghanistan have increased ever since India cast its lot with the Kabul regime in the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.
Another threat to the minorities has been the rise of an ISI-affiliated terrorist outfit. Security analysts believed it was behind the Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib massacre in Kabul to announce its presence.
The abducted Sikh, Nidan Singh, is an Afghan who had moved to India for some years when the Taliban gained ascendancy in the early 90s and worked odd jobs here. It is still not clear how and by whom Nidan Singh was asked to return and man Gurdwara Tala Sahib in Afghanistan’s Paktia Province near the border with Pakistan. The wider region called “Loya Paktia” has been a Mujahideen and then Taliban\Haqqani Group stronghold since the early 1980s.
Nidan Singh lived at the gurdwara where Guru Nanak was reported to have visited with his wife and children and was responsible for its upkeep, sources said.
Nidan Singh was abducted earlier this week.
India and other countries are worried over the shrinking of space for Sikh and Hindu minorities ever since US-Taliban talks got into high gear and India excluded itself from establishing contacts with the insurgent group. India has condemned Nidan Singh’s abduction and the government hopes the Afghan government will be able to secure his safe and early release.
Soon after the May 15 massacre at the Kabul Gurdwara, former US Vice-President Joe Biden had promised to raise the annual global refugee admissions cap to 1.25 lakhs if he won the November US Presidential elections. Implicit was the assurance that some of the quota would be for Afghanistan’s embattled Sikh community.
The USCIRF, which frequently upbraids India for its treatment of minorities, had described the Kabul attack as a “terrible tragedy” for a “wonderful, peaceful religious group” that has been virtually decimated in Afghanistan with just a thousand left.
Its chief Senator Sam Brownback was more guarded than Biden on the issue of citizenship but has mentioned the possibility of settling them in Canada, India or Pakistan. “We’ve been inquiring, as others have, of possible places for the remaining Sikhs in Afghanistan to go to be able to be safe. I don’t have anything publicly that I could say,” he had observed.