IS terror attack: Sawinder Singh's visa arrives too late
Sawinder Singh had decided to leave Kabul as soon as the Taliban took control last August, and applied for a visa to return to Delhi.
Indian authorities approved his e-visa on Sunday – a day after a terror attack on a Kabul gurdwara had killed Sawinder.
“He was trying to get a visa ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan,” his wife Pal Kaur said in Delhi, breaking down as she recounted how she had lived with fear for a year --- a fear that came true on Saturday.
“Had he got his visa in time, he would have not have died this brutal death,” she added.
A day after the attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan killed Sawinder and another person, India approved e-visas for over 100 Sikhs and Hindus living in Afghanistan.
Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of the India World Forum, said he had been appealing to New Delhi to grant visas to over 150 Sikhs living in Afghanistan since the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government in August.
“Singh is among the 109 people whose visas have been approved but this came too late for him,” he said.
“I have been writing to the government and had we acted promptly, we could have saved him. The government should make immediate efforts to rescue those who are desperately waiting to return.”
The 60-something Sawinder ran a small paan shop in Kabul and lived in the gurdwara, while his family lived in Delhi. He was a granthi, a ceremonial reader of the Guru Granth Sahib.
“We wanted him to come back as soon as possible. He was ready to sell his shop and move here permanently, but the visa clearance never came and we lost him,” Kaur told PTI at the family’s home in Tilak Nagar.
Several blasts tore through the gurdwara, the latest minority place of worship attacked in Afghanistan, on Saturday.
Afghan security personnel thwarted a bigger tragedy by stopping an explosive-laden vehicle from reaching the gurdwara.
The gurdwara had been home to at least 150 Sikhs since the Taliban takeover.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.