Negotiations Underway For Safety Of Kidnapped Afghan Hindu In Kabul; MEA Monitoring The Situation
India is monitoring the situation and collecting more information on the alleged kidnapping of Afghan Hindu Bansri Lal Arendeh in Kabul, says official spokesperson of MEA, Arindam Bagchi.
Afghanistan has witnessed a large number of abductions since the Taliban overtook the country on 15 August.
The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Arindam Bagchi, said on Thursday (16 September) that India is monitoring the situation and collecting more information on the alleged kidnapping of Afghan Hindu Bansri Lal Arendeh in Kabul.
"We are told he is an Indian national. We are in touch with all concerned. We have seen reports that local authorities are undertaking investigation in this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation," Bagchi was quoted as saying by The Hindu. Terming the case "sensitive", he added that India was verifying all the information regarding the person.
Fifty-year-old Arendeh ran a prominent medicine business in Kabul. He was abducted by car-borne men at gunpoint on Tuesday (14 September) morning near his pharmaceuticals shop.
The identity and motive of his abductors have not been established, but eyewitnesses said Bansri Lal was taken away in a vehicle type also used by the Taliban. The local Hindu and Sikh community has reportedly appealed to the Ministry of External Affairs for assistance.
Kabul has around 200 Sikhs and Hindus, who remain there as flights to evacuate them have not been allowed by the Taliban. Kabul and other cities, like Jalalabad, have reportedly witnessed a large number of abductions since the Taliban overtook the country on 15 August. Following the takeover, Afghanistan is facing a breakdown in the medical sector as hospitals are fast running out of basic medicines.
The intelligence wing of the Taliban issued an order on Wednesday (15 September) signed by its director-general, calling for urgent action to trace Arendeh with the help of CCTV footage. Bagchi's comment hinted at India indirectly engaging with the Taliban elements to ensure the safety of the victim.
Reportedly, negotiations are underway to free Arendeh. He had stayed back in Kabul and was reportedly not among those Afghan Hindu or Sikh citizens who had requested evacuation to India and other countries.
India has not established formal ties with the Taliban so far but has made clear its intention to continue to carry out developmental work for the Afghan people.
The erstwhile Taliban reign saw severe persecution of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan. There were widespread kidnappings, extortion, property grabbing incidents and religious persecution. After the dislodgment of the Taliban in 2001, the Hindu-Sikh population still remained a target of various Jihadist groups operating in the country. The second term of Taliban in the country has further spurred the exodus of the Indic minorities.
Bagchi informed on Thursday (16 September) that a majority of Indian nationals in Afghanistan had been evacuated since the Taliban takeover, though some were still in the country. "The Indian side is still in touch with these people who were unable to return after operations at Kabul airport were suspended," he said.
"India has also raised the safe return of all those who wish to leave Afghanistan with the international community, and UN Security Council resolution 2593 emphasises the issue of safe travel by Afghan nationals and minorities. This is an important issue," he added.
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