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SOURCE: Hindustan Times

A total of 357 members of Afghanistan’s Sikh minority have arrived in India this year to escape persecution and targeted attacks by “terrorists and their sponsors”, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.

Requests from Afghan Sikhs to be granted permission to settle in India had increased since a terror attack on a Sikh place of worship in the Afghan capital earlier this year, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a virtual weekly news briefing.

Nearly 30 people, most of them Sikhs, were killed in the attack in Kabul in March. The attack was blamed on the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which have close ties with the Pakistani military establishment.

“We have been receiving requests from Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan to grant them permission to settle down in India,” Srivastava said.

“These requests have specifically gone up after the attack in the gurdwara in Kabul in March,” he said, without giving details regarding the number of requests received by New Delhi.

“We see a targeted persecution of the minority community members by terrorists and their sponsors, and this is a matter of serious concern,” Srivastava said.

“To ensure their safety and well-being, the Indian mission in Kabul has been actively in contact with them and they are facilitated [for] their smooth arrival from Afghanistan despite the Covid-19 related restrictions,” he added.

“So far, 357 members of the minority community have arrived from Afghanistan to India since the lockdown and the Indian Sikh community is assisting in making their stay comfortable in India,” he said.