India says it will prioritize Hindus and Sikhs in visas for Afghans

India says it will prioritize Hindus and Sikhs in visas for Afghans

India’s government said Tuesday it would prioritize receiving Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan, a move that drew comparisons to a controversial 2019 citizenship law, enacted under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which discriminates against Muslims.

The country’s Interior Ministry said it would introduce “emergency visas“To allow Afghans to stay in India for six months. He did not say whether Muslims, who make up the majority of those seeking to leave Afghanistan when the Taliban take power, would also be considered.

“We are in constant contact with the leaders of the Hindu and Sikh communities in Kabul,” said S. Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister. said on Twitter. “Your well-being will receive our priority attention.”

This distinction provoked the condemnation of some corners.

“Ashamed that the Indian government’s response now is to look at desperate Afghan refugees not as humans fleeing persecution and certain death, but from the perspective of whether they are Muslim or not,” Kavita Krishnan, a politician from the opposition, said on Twitter.

India also drew criticism after numerous seats were left empty on an Air Force flight Tuesday that Evacuated Indian citizens and officials from the country’s embassy in Kabul.

New Delhi officials have indicated that the country “supportAfghans who worked closely with the Indian government and its mission in Afghanistan. It is unclear if his religious status would be a factor in that process.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India has granted longer-term visas to Afghans fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. Many Afghans immigrated to India when the Taliban took power about two decades ago. Some have settled in New Delhi, where a commercial district popularly called “Little Kabul” comes to life every night with stalls selling traditional food.

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US and Afghan officials say India’s archrival Pakistan has allowed Taliban leaders free movement and that the country continues to serve as a haven where fighters and their families can receive medical care.

But experts say India is navigating cautiously in its relationship with Afghanistan’s new leaders. Indian diplomats recently made efforts engage with the Taliban as part of the US-led talks in Doha, Qatar.

Some in India have urged their government to interact directly with the Taliban. Vivek Katju, former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, told the news outlet The Wire last week that the country had become a “bystander” in Afghanistan and that Indian leaders no longer knew “which way to go.”

“Engagement with the Taliban should happen,” Katju said in a telephone interview with The New York Times on Tuesday. “The mechanics of commitment must be such that it is open and direct.”

For its part, the Pakistani leadership has not praised the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

“When you adopt someone’s culture, you think they are superior and you end up becoming a slave to it,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an evening reference to American and Western culture on Monday. “In Afghanistan, they have broken the shackles of slavery,” Khan said in an appearance in Islamabad, “but the slavery of the mind is not broken.”

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