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Friday, September 24, 2021

Afghan Sikh, Hindu families living in Amritsar still awaiting Indian citizenship

Amritsar Additional Deputy Commissioner Ruhee Dug said she was not aware of local authorities having received any notification from the state or central governments for implementation of the Citizen Amendment Bill.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: August 23, 2021 6:54:33 am
Last Monday, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had tweeted: "Urge @DrSJaishankar, MEA, GoI, to arrange for immediate evacuation of all Indians, including around 200 Sikhs, stuck in a gurudwara in Afghanistan. (File)

REFUGEE SIKH and Hindu families living in Amritsar are still waiting for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Last Monday, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had tweeted: “Urge @DrSJaishankar, MEA, GoI, to arrange for immediate evacuation of all Indians, including around 200 Sikhs, stuck in a gurudwara in Afghanistan after the #Taliban takeover. My govt is willing to extend any help needed to ensure their safe evacuation. @MEAIndia (sic).”

However, there are Sikh and Hindu families from Afghanistan and Pakistan in Amritsar, who have been waiting for Indian citizenship for decades.

“Any Sikh or Hindu from Afghanistan wants to come to India had better stay at Kabul. We are living here in hope of citizenship for several decades. Many of our relatives have died in the hope of Indian citizenship. I won’t advise anyone to come to India,” said an Afghan refugee in Amritsar, who did not wish to be named.

Sources said these families live a life of uncertainty in India. They are annually asked to submit their papers to extend their refugee visa, and can be asked to leave the country any time, and they have limited legal rights as compared to Indian citizens.

The Centre had passed the CAA in December 2019. However, the Congress government in Punjab had passed a resolution against CAA in January 2020.

“We will fight against it tooth and nail. BJP-led NDA government is trying to change the values enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution. Punjab will not implement CAA,” Amarinder had said on December 31, 2019.

Amritsar Additional Deputy Commissioner Ruhee Dug said she was not aware of local authorities having received any notification from the state or central governments for implementation of the Citizen Amendment Bill.

The district has Hindu and Sikh refugees who have come from Pakistan and Afganistan alleging religious persecution.

“I am not aware of anyone who has been granted Indian citizenship in the recent past,” said Dug.
After passing of CAA, the local BJP unit had mobilised Hindu and Sikh families who migrated from the Afghanistan and Pakistan and arranged their meeting with then Amritsar deputy commissioner, Shiv Dular Singh, in 2020. The families had requested the DC to give them benefits of the new law as soon as possible. However, nothing has happened yet.

Gurmeet Singh from Afghanistan, who runs a cosmetics shop in Kabul, said, “We don’t think India is a good option for Afghan Hindu and Sikhs. We have many relatives and known who had gone to India in the past. They are not in good condition there. Some of them had also come back. There is no clear policy regarding refugees in India.”

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