Citizenship bill glimmer of hope for Hindu, Sikh refugees from Afghanistan

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communiti...

New Delhi: After losing two of her sons in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan, Jaswant Kaur had to flee the country 10 years ago with her family, but little did she know that her struggle for a life of dignity would begin in her “natural homeland”, India.

Kaur, her grand children and daughters in law are among the thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who escaped persecution in Afghanistan to find safety in India, but are now left running pillar to post for citizenship.

The process to get citizenship is long with a wait of about 12 years or more. Rife with red-tapism and complicated procedures, one has to run office to office to complete requirements. The challenge is bigger for Kaur, in her early sixties, as her family is an all-women household. Her third son was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Jalalabad in which prominent members of the Hindu-Sikh community in Afghanistan also died in July last year...

...Unlike in the US and several European countries where children born get local passports, Afghan refugees have to get Afghan passports for their children even if they are born in India, Singh said.

Extremists have stopped minority communities from trading and employment unless they convert to Islam. Looting is rampant and women can move only in burkas, he alleged.

Children face verbal assaults and attacks in schools, thus many left education in between, he claimed. Singh said they come to India with virtually nothing.Their properties are not purchased knowing they have no option but to leave.


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