India granted visa to 111 Sikhs in Afghanistan

A day after Islamic State claimed Attack on one of the main Gurudwaras of Kabuli In which two people died and at least three were injured, the Indian government granted visas to 111 Afghan Sikhs who wanted to come to the country.

Sources said the decision to grant the e-visa was taken within hours of the attack, which happened on Saturday when 25-30 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus gathered at Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Guru Gobind Singh Karta Parwan, the central gurdwara of Afghan Sikh . Community in Kabul, for ‘Sukhmani Sahib’ or morning prayer. A group of gunmen, believed to number around four, stormed the gurdwara and opened fire.

sources said that Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.and that the ISKP said the attack was in response to remarks made against the Prophet by the two suspended BJP Spokesman.

The attack has also cast a shadow over at least some functions of the Indian embassy in Kabul, such as visas, humanitarian aid and the government’s plans to restart business in some areas.

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Sources said the intention remains to restart some of these services, but a political decision will have to be taken.

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Earlier this month, when an Indian team visited Kabul, more than nine months after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, it found the health and education infrastructure in the country crumbling. However, it was found that there has been some improvement in the security situation.

This initial assessment was shared with the top Indian leadership after the team’s tour. The team, led by a senior foreign ministry official, met Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaki and Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai on June 2 and 3.

The Indian team was led by JP Singh, Joint Secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in the Ministry of External Affairs. Earlier, he had met Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar. India called off its mission in Kabul soon after the Taliban entered the city last August.

The Indian team had also visited the Indian Embassy complex in Kabul, and found that the premises were “safe and secure”. He also visited four projects and programs that had some Indian role, and when it was found that the country’s health and education facilities were in dire need of help. He had visited the Indira Gandhi Institute of Children’s Health – a 400-bed hospital, which was Afghanistan’s main hospital that catered to children. There is a shortage of essential medicines in the hospital. The team found that most of the doctors have left the country, and the hospital is largely staffed and has few facilities. He had also visited Habibiya High School in Kabul, which was renovated by India between 2003 and 2005, and found that it too needed maintenance. The school had few teachers and girl students were allowed only up to the primary classes.

In its talks with key Taliban leaders, the Indian team had the impression that the Taliban was “ready to engage” and was desperately seeking assistance to improve the country’s infrastructure. But they face challenges in governance and capability, as many qualified and trained Afghan citizens have left the country.

One of the major and perceptible changes in Kabul was the general improvement of the security situation, where the Indian team came to understand that there was a perception of better security.

However, Saturday’s attack has changed perceptions of the threat to the Indian establishment in Afghanistan, despite assurances from the Taliban. However, sources said New Delhi is committed to the welfare of the people of Afghanistan, and will take steps “in a realistic manner”.