India to provide e-visas to Afghan Sikhs & Hindus on priority after attack on Gurudwara

The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) decided to grant e-emergency visas to over 100 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus on ‘priority’ a day after the deadly terror attack at Gurudwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e-Bala neighbourhood, in which two people, including a Sikh, were killed, according to people familiar with the matter.

The e-visas will make it easier for Sikhs and Hindus to flee Afghanistan, where they are in dire danger due to terrorist threats. Officials claimed emergency visas had already been given in consultation with intelligence agencies due to the security situation.

Several blasts were reported at the gurudwara in Kabul on Saturday morning followed by a gun-battle between the attackers and Taliban fighters. Three attackers were killed by the Taliban fighters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack saying “Shocked by the cowardly terrorist attack against the Karte Parwan Gurudwara in Kabul. I condemn this barbaric attack and pray for the safety and well being of the devotees”.

Global terror outfit, Islamic State, also known as Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), is suspected to be behind the attack.

The officials cited above said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to be handed over the probe into yesterday’s terror attack. The central agency is already probing the March 25, 2020 attack on a gurudwara in Kabul, in which 27 Sikh devotees including an Indian national were killed.

While there were around 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in 2020, many families left the country last year in the wake of unrest and following the Taliban’s takeover of the country when the US troops left on August 15.

Indian officials said around 150 Hindus and Sikhs are living in Afghanistan currently. “But this miniscule minority is under severe threat right now,” said an official.

Following change of regime in Kabul last year, Indian government extended help to Afghan citizens, who were looking to flee the country and seek refuge in other countries including India, by starting a new visa category – “e-Emergency X-Misc”.

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