Updated 4:26 pm, Mar 28, 2020

Citizenship Amendment Bill: A Protest for Some but Hope for Many Hindus, Sikhs Who left Afghanistan || SNE

By  INDIA TODAY .
Dec 07, 2019

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Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 was approved by Union cabinet on November 4 and it has received strong criticism by the opposition parties calling it a bill against the principle of Constitution.

 

THE AFGHAN MIGRATION

 

Hindu families who lived in Afghanistan and escaped in late 80s and 90s to India for better prospect of life and safety want this bill to be passed as soon as possible.

 

The assault on their religious freedom, fear of religious conversion, and attack by Taliban and local Mujahideen in Afghanistan compelled many Afghan Sikhs and Hindu families to migrate from different provinces of Afghanistan to India from 1980 to 1993.

 These minority Sikhs and Hindus where living in Afghan province of Kabul, Jalalabad, Ghajini, Gandhar, Logar, Kunduz, Parwan and Helmand.

 

STORY OF RAMNATH WHO FLED AFGHANISTAN IN 1993

One 81-year-old Ramnath Kapoor and his wife Rammurty Kapoor are amongst those Afghan Hindus who had left Kabul and settled in Delhi in 1993. Now living in Delhi’s CR Park on Afghan passport with no valid visa since past couple of years,“In 1989 when Mujahideen and Taliban started assaulting the minorities there in Afghanistan we had no option but to escape with whatever we could take along.”

 

Ramnath Kapoor said, “Those were scary times. The rockets attacks were rampant around us. We came to India in 1993 with a three-month visa. The visa kept extending until two years ago.”

 

Ramnath Kapoor told that he is living in India without a valid visa.

 

His wife Rammurti also recalls the times when she lived with her family in Afghanistan before the Mujahideen and Taliban had started targeting the minorities. She said, “We were forced to wear burqa and women were not allowed to go out of house freely.”

Ramanth Kapoor said that it has been a long fight for him to apply for citizenship to live in India but finally the Citizenship Amendment Bill is here and it is not less than a light of hope for many like him.

 

SURESH KHANNA, AN AFGHAN HINDU WHO SETTLED INDIA IN 1991

Suresh Khanna, an Afghan Hindu who settled India in 1991 said, “I had a business of dry fruits in Kabul but Mujahideen and Taliban attacked Hindus and Sikhs. It was brutal. We had no other option but to leave.”

 

Suresh said, “We all will be really happy if we are granted the Indian citizenship after all we will have a country to live in without fears.”

 

THE AFGHAN SIKHS WHO CAME TO INDIA

 

Thousands of Afghan Sikhs where are also forced to escape from Afghanistan during late 80s and early 90s. Many of Afghan Sikhs came to India and settled in Haryana’s Faridabad and Delhi’s Greater Kailash and Tilak Nagar.

 

One of the gurdwaras in greater Kailash is also known as Afghani Gurdwara as majority of the Sikh community living there Afghan Sikhs who migrated to India.

The former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Manjit Singh had certain things to share, how he raised issues with many governments that came to power.

 

Manjit Singh told , “Ninety per cent of the Afghan Sikhs migrated from Afghanistan particularly after coup against Afghan president Najeebullah. Afghanistan was a secular country but soon it was overtaken by extremists and Taliban who primarily targeted the minorities. The religious freedom was taken away. The religious structure was demolished and all these minorities including Sikhs and Hindus had to escape from Afghanistan.”

 

“I hope that after Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is approved by the Parliament many of the Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Bangladesh will happily come to India and settle here,” he added.

 

Harinder Singh is amongst those Afghan Sikhs who left Kabul in 1989.

 

Harinder told , “The life was miserable for us. We had no religious freedom. The extremists in Afghanistan kept telling us go to India, that is your country not Afghanistan. After an assault against our family we all decided to leave this country [Afghanistan] and migrate to India.”

 

The Hindu Sikh welfare society president Khajendra Singh Khurana’s family also left Kabul in 1980 and settled in Delhi.

 

Khajendra Singh Khurana has been fighting for the citizenship for the migrated Hindus and Sikhs. Khajendra Singh told, “Those who migrated from Afghanistan the life was really difficult for them. Many came without a passport or visa or any valid document. We could not go from one place to another – no job, no facilities. Many Afghan Hindus and Sikhs went to Germany or Sweden or France or London but a few came to India.”

 

The Afghan Hindu Sikh welfare society President said, “Citizenship Amendment Bill is a hope for us. We will get citizenship of this country. Our life will be easy, we will have religious freedom here in India and life without fears.”

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