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Sikh man’s abduction case in Afghanistan gets murkier, now ‘local land mafia’ suspected behind act; family has no info on his whereabouts yet

Family writes to Indian PM Modi seeking help, Indian citizenship.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
July 3, 2020 2:49:50 pm
A family member claimed that mafia behind the abduction had grabbed the gurdwara land because hardly anyone goes there except for the annual fair.

Local land mafia and not the Taliban might have in their captivity a Sehajdhari Sikh who was allegedly abducted by armed men from Thala Sri Guru Nanak Sahib gurdwara in Chamkani district of Afghanistan in Paktia province near the Pakistan border, his family on Thursday said.

Nidan Singh Sachdeva (55), an Afghan national living in Delhi on a Long Term Visa, had gone to Afghanistan in March to perform sewa at gurdwara and attend the annual fair. According to his family, he was abducted by ‘armed men’ from the gurdwara on the night of June 17 and since then they are unaware of his whereabouts. The family has now written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking help in getting Nidan Singh released and asking for the Indian citizenship.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Charan Singh Sachdeva, Delhi-based cousin of Nidan Singh said, “We have now got to know that it is the local land mafia who have abducted him. We are still unaware of his whereabouts. Initially, the abductors had sent us his photos and videos on WhatsApp and also some voice notes seeking more details about Nidan Singh. He is a diabetic and needs proper care. Earlier, the abductors were making him speak to his family on phone but now that too has stopped.”

Sachdeva claimed that mafia behind the abduction had grabbed the gurdwara land because hardly anyone goes there except for the annual fair. “Nidan was trying to get the gurdwara land freed. The land belongs to the Sikh community in Afghanistan and our family was caretaker of this particular gurdwara. It is located near the Pakistan border and hardly any Sikh lives there now”.

Nidan Singh’s abduction came after the Islamic State (IS) sponsored attack at Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul on March 25 in which 25 Sikh community members were killed. Earlier, Nidan’s family was suspecting the Taliban hand behind his abduction.

Confirming that the role of local land mafia has come to light in Nidan Singh’s abduction, Chhabol Singh, member, managing committee, Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji Singh Sabha Karte Parwan, Kabul, said, “We were suspecting Taliban behind the act but now it has come to light that Nidan has been abducted by land mafia who were eyeing gurdwara land. The gurdwara is small but there is vacant land around it. Nidan Singh was apparently trying to get the land freed and it is due to this enmity, that he was abducted”.

Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Chhabol Singh said that the abductors had made Nidan Singh speak to his daughter recently. “This is a direct attack on Sikh community and our gurdwara,”” he said adding that “Taliban has denied abducting him”.

Meanwhile, Nidan’s family including wife, two sons and three daughters have written a letter to PM Narendra Modi seeking help in locating him. Speaking to The Indian Express, Nidan’s 17-year old son, said, “We are still unaware of my father’s whereabouts. Now we aren’t even in touch with him over the phone. We have written a letter to Indian PM seeking help in getting him released and getting him back to India.”

In the letter to the PM, Nidan’s wife Mahrwanti has written that her husband, “a Hindu Sikh minority, Afghan national… has been abducted by armed disgruntled elements” from Chamkani, Paktia… from Gurdwara Thala Sahib. “He went on a visit to Afghanistan in March this year to renew his Indian Long Term Visa and to maintain historical gurdwara. Our family ancestrally hails from Paktia…I and my family members had tried to communicate with my husband but all attempts have gone in vain… We are deeply concerned for his welfare as he suffers from serious ailments like diabetes, hypertension..The abductors who have not disclosed their identity have confirmed his captivity through voice messages and his images sent over WhatsApp from his phone number and their own phone number.. The motive of abduction remains unclear… As per facts, Paktia is an epicenter of Taliban insurgency and in the past has been a safe haven for militants from the Haqqani network and therefore considering the same we apprehend that he may have been abducted by a militant organization”.

“The minorities living in Afghanistan have faced and are facing severe atrocities and do not have any sort of guarantee for their safety. In this regard… the Government of India is requested to provide us appropriate assistance and take appropriate action as deemed fit. Our appeal may be taken up with concerned counterparts at the highest level in order to secure his safe release at the earliest… kindly repatriate him to New Delhi immediately after his release and grant us Indian citizenship at the earliest,” the letter reads.

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