A group of Afghan minority community members which includes Sikhs and Hindus called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (February 19) at his residence.
During the meeting PM Modi told them, “(India) this is your house, you are not a guest here. India is your house and every Indian gives respect and love to you”.
This is the first such meeting and happened months after the Indian govt evacuated several Afghan minority community members after the Taliban takeover of the country last year.
During the hour-long meet, PM recalled his address to the Afghan Parliament in 2015 and said when “he mentioned Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and that he had met him, everyone was happy to hear that”.
Present in the meeting were Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and minister of state at the ministry of external affairs Meenakshi Lekhi. Remember Minister Puri had carried the Guru Granth Sahib that had arrived from Afghanistan on his head in a show of respect.
The PM was given an Afghan chapan (traditional dress), which Former Afghan President Haid Karzai is usually seen wearing. Thanking the community members for the ‘respect’ in the form of the traditional dress and Afghan traditional turban, PM Modi said, “This is a symbol of an Afghan. If President Karzai sees this, he will be very happy to see”,
For many Afghan minorities, India has been a second home, especially since the Taliban takeover of the country last August. Under Operation Devi shakti last year India evacuated hundreds of stranded Indian nationals and Afghan minority community members from the country. Afghan Sikh groups mentioned how grateful they have been to the Indian govt for the support last year.
Meanwhile, next week is expected to see India sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in the form of a promised 50,000 MT of wheat. The aid will be sent over Pakistani territory on Afghan trucks.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said, “We are committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. We have said this before, we have shared information about the shipment of medicines and vaccines. The modalities for the shipment of 50,000 tonnes of wheat via Pakistan are in the final stages.”
Indian Embassy in Rome and the United Nations World Food Program formally signed an MoU on February 12 for the distribution of wheat to Afghanistan.