NEW DELHI: The trauma of being abducted and kept in captivity in Afghanistan is gradually going away now that I am back in my homeland , said Nidan Singh Sachdeva, who till a few days ago, had to endure regular beatings and death threats by his captors.
The 55-year-old Sikh community leader in Afghanistan was abducted last month along with 10 members of minority communities of that country Sikhs and Hindus — from the Paktia province. They were later released and arrived here on Sunday after India granted them visas and facilitated their travel.
Recalling his ordeal, Sachdeva, who was released on July 18, said he was given death threats several times in captivity and had lost all hope of returning alive. “I was beaten up and traumatized. I was told we will send your head back to India’,” he said.
Sachdeva said he still gets nightmares of the beatings that he endured in captivity. “We saw a lot of violence in front of our eyes. I keep getting nightmares and wake up all panicky,” he said.
“But now that I have returned to India, I feel all the pain that I endured due to constant beatings in captivity has vanished,” Sachdeva said. Calling India “heaven”, he thanked the Indian government for facilitating their return. There are many Sikh brothers and sisters in the country (Afghanistan) still. I request the government to bring them back too, he said.
Pyaara Singh, who was also among those who returned, said India is his home and other Sikhs who are stranded there also want to return. “India is our home and I want to request the government to bring all Sikhs back and give them citizenship. They all want to return to India. We feel safe and secure here,” he said.
Gurjeet Singh, 30, said he is looking forward to starting his life in India. “I have lost many family members in attacks. I am happy on returning and I hope others also get to return to India. The situation in Afghanistan is not conducive but that does not mean that everyone is bad there. There are people who were sympathetic to our plight too,” he said
“But then there are also people who consider us infidels and look down upon us,” Gurjeet Singh said.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had last week said that India had been receiving requests from members of Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan which have faced a spurt in attacks terrorists. “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.