India monitors safety of Afghan Hindus, Sikhs amid Taliban advance

India will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Hindu and Sikh minority community members in Afghanistan, said an official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) this week. Addressing the weekly media interaction, official sookesperson Arindam Bagchi said India is keenly watching the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.

The gains made by the Taliban has renewed the security concerns for the religious minorities in Afghanistan. The MEA spokesperson said the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan is of concern, and the government is in touch with all the stakeholders for peace and stability in the country.

India evacuated several citizens on Wednesday morning from Mazar-i-Sharif in the backdrop of increased violence in the city. Officials, however, maintained that there is no plan to evacuate the remaining Indians through a government-sponsored initiative, suggesting that as of now, the advisory is for citizens to return using commercially available flights. "We are concerned about the deteriorating security situation.

"Last year, our mission in Kabul had facilitated the return of 383 members of the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan. Our mission continues to remain in touch with the Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members, and we will ensure the provision of all necessary assistance to them," Bagchi said.

Last week, the Taliban allegedly removed Nishan Sahib, a Sikh religious flag, from a gurdwara in eastern Afghanistan, but was restored soon after, reported news agency ANI.

Taliban fighters have taken over at least ten provincial capitals in a week. Reports suggest that they have surrounded the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, increasing pressure on the capital Kabul, which has a significant number of Indians.

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