AN NGO is joining hands with the Centre and the Afghanistan consulate to evacuate over 400 Afghani Sikhs and Hindus staying in various camps in the war-torn country by chartered flights and rehabilitate them here.
Since March 25, Vikramjit S Sahney, a recipient of the Padma Shri and international president of the World Punjabi Organisation (WPO), has been restless. The deadly terrorist attack on a gurdwara in Kabul, in which 26 people lost their lives, had left him shaken.
Sahney, here in Chandigarh on a personal family visit, shared that he had been in touch with the Afghan community in Kabul, to devise a plan to help all Sikhs and Hindus there who wanted to come back to India. “But there were no flights then and now that the flights are operational, these Sikhs and Hindu families based in Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni are so poor that they can’t afford the fare to come back to India,” said Delhi-based Sahney, adding that there are two Sikh MPs in Afghanistan — Devender Singh Khalsa and Anarkali — and several gurdwaras, but due to the current conditions, all Sikhs and Hindus want to migrate to India.
With the support of WPO, Sahney is all set to organise chartered flights to evacuate over 400 Sikhs and Hindus in the next few days. According to Sahney, all arrangements for chartered flights have been made in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Embassy in Kabul, with long-term visas having been issued by the Indian Embassy, with a permanent residency and Indian citizenship granted to them in due course.
WPO is a non-political international body to bring about ‘Punjabi Renaissance’ with outreach in over 22 countries, working to foster social, economic and cultural unity through several initiatives.
Sahney says the endeavour to evacuate 400 Afghani Sikhs and Hindus has been a collective effort, as the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee will provide temporary accommodation to these migrants in Delhi at three gurdwaras for 2-3 months. “Dalip Singh Sethi and Paramjit Singh Bedi, two prominent Sikhs in the USA, have sponsored the migrant families under the project, ‘My Family My Responsibility’. The families will be given homes in West Delhi and their household expenses will be met for one year, as we hope they will find their feet here. I will be happy and satisfied once the families are safe here,” says Sahney, who as chairman of the NGO Sun Foundation has empowered thousands of economically weak and disabled youth through free skill development projects and scholarships to needy orphan students.
A special skill development centre set up by his foundation at Jail Road in Delhi, he says, will provide young Afghani Sikhs and Hindu boys and girls free skill training in various fields, which will help them secure jobs and earn a dignified livelihood. “We will feel we have been able to extend a helping hand once they all are rehabilitated and after a year, we will evaluate the progress,” he says, now waiting for ministry approval to put the plan into action.
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