New Delhi: 11 members of minority communities of Afghanistan, including a Sikh community leader who was kidnapped and later released, reached New Delhi on July 26 after India granted them visas and facilitated their travel.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who was released from captivity on July 18, is among those who reached Delhi on Sunday.

Sachdeva, a Sikh community leader of Afghanistan, was kidnapped in Paktia province last month. He said ANI,"I was abducted from the gurudwara and 20 hours later, I was covered with blood. I was tied to a tree as well. They used to beat me and ask me to convert into a Muslim. I repeatedly asked them why I should convert, I have my own religion."

He added that he doesn't know what to call Hindustan -- whether it is his mother or father -- Hindustan is Hindustan, he said. 

He added, “I am more than thankful to the Indian government for bringing us here to our motherland. I have no words to describe my feelings."

"Around 11 members, belonging to the Sikh and Hindu minority community of Afghanistan, arrived in India today," the MEA had said in a statement.

India has granted appropriate visas and facilitated their travel to India, it said.

"We appreciate the efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in extending necessary support for the safe return of these families," the MEA said.

Asked how India is facilitating Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan wanting to come and were there any plans to give them citizenship, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had last week said, "There has been a recent spurt of attacks on the Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan and these attacks have been done by terrorists at the behest of their external supporters."

"We have been receiving requests from the members of these communities. They want to move to India, they want to settle down here, and despite the ongoing COVID situation, we are facilitating these requests," he had said at a weekly briefing.

The Indian Embassy in Kabul is providing them necessary visas to come here and once they reach here, their requests will be examined and acted upon based on existing rules and policies, Srivastava had said.  

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