Hindu-Sikh Afghans Torn Between Identity And Livelihood In Their Natural Homeland India

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New Delhi: Every couple of months Surveer Singh, who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, is torn between identity and livelihood.

And his dilemma between fulfilling requirements for citizenship of his “natural homeland”, India, and holding on to a stable job refuses to end even after 27 years.

The 33-year-old, who, along with his family of four, lives in Amritsar, says he is struggling to stay afloat as every other month he has to visit government offices and cut through red tape to continue living in his “natural homeland”.

Surveer Singh’s family had been living in Afghanistan’s restive Nangarhar province before his parents decided to move to India in 1992, when a wave of Hindus and Sikhs left Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the USSR and the arrival of Mujahideens.

Being the sole bread-winner of the family, Surveer Singh, who earns his livelihood doing odd jobs, says though his family migrated to India at the same time, every person in his family has their visas and refugee certificates issued on different dates.

As their citizenship application is caught in a bureaucratic maze, they need to visit government offices on a regular basis to maintain their papers. They have pleaded with several political leaders for getting the Indian citizenship but all they have got is assurances, he says.

“Since the papers expire every 12 months, I have to visit New Delhi once in two or three months along with one of my family members for renewals,” Surveer Singh said, adding that he is sick of his shaky status in India.

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