Source: The Navhind Times, Panaji, Goa
GOA, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Some 8,000 Hindu refugees fleeing religious fanaticism and the civil war in Afghanistan have found shelter in Germany, but they have extreme difficulties in securing visas to India as red-tape prevents their visiting holy places or from immersing the ashes of their dead in the Ganges, as prescribed by the Hindu faith. Mr. Kewal Nagpal, who works as an administrator of a Hindu temple in Cologne run by an Afghan association called the Afghanische Hindu Gemeinde, lost his mother four and a half months back. Her ashes which should have been immersed within 10 days of cremation are in a funeral home. "I get terrible dreams in which she appears and seems to tell me her soul is not at peace," Mr. Nagpal said. But the Indian government refused to grant him a visa because of "security reasons," he was told by the Indian embassy in Bonn. Afghan Hindus are denied visas, as India, driven by security concerns has its security specialists screen applications which can take between six weeks to a year. Many Afghan Hindu refugees hold stateless identity cards issued by the German government which the Indian embassy does not recognize. Approximately 50,000 Hindus lived in Afghanistan prior to the civil war; hardly a handful is left.