Hindu and Sikh-origin Afghans fear persecution under the Taliban rule, whose previous version was not a reassuring example. But some of them also don’t want to go to India, a land under a Hindu nationalist government.
Around 200 Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan have been recently offered a safe passage to India by New Delhi authorities, as India has already arranged flights to evacuate its citizens.
But some of those Afghan religious minorities stuck at the Kabul airport have reportedly preferred to go to the US or Canada than reaching India, a Hindu-majority country.
“What is the harm in seeking migration to the US or Canada? We know the fate of those who migrated to India. There are no job opportunities and many of them either returned or moved to other countries,” said one of those people, who wanted to go to Canada or the US.
The pandemic-hit Indian economy, which was already reeling under slow growth, is not showing any signs of recovery in the near future. The IMF lowered its previous growth forecast of 12.5 percent to that of 8.5 percent for the country.
“Growth prospects in India have been downgraded following the severe second COVID wave during March-May and expected slow recovery in confidence from that setback,” said IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report.
Under the Hindu nationalist Modi government, the country’s human rights situation has also gotten worse, with US senators and the European Union expressing concerns over it.
Why India offers asylum only to Hindus and Sikhs
As violence and human rights violations increase across the country, the Modi government said it will ‘prioritise’ Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan in providing visas for emergency evacuation.
Human rights groups and some Indian politicians have criticised the country’s asylum policy toward Afghanistan saying that it was in line with BJP’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, championed by Modi. The bill excludes Muslims, signalling that the Hindu nationalist government harboured a discriminatory sentiment toward the country’s Muslim minority.
“Ashamed that the government of India response now is to look at desperate Afghan refugees not as humans fleeing persecution and sure death, but from the view of whether or not they’re Muslim,” wrote Kavita Krishnan, an opposition politician, on Twitter.
Most recently, various images of Hindu mobs publicly beating Muslims have emerged on social media. The lynch mobs have become emboldened to such an extent that they attack Muslims for just walking or conducting business in Hindu-populated areas..