Afghan Sikh MP expresses his gratitude to India for Kabul evacuation
Afghanistan’s Sikh parliamentarian Narender Singh Khalsa has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government and the Indian Air Force for rescuing him and other members of his community from the war-torn nation following its takeover by the Taliban and fall of the elected government, led by Ashraf Ghani, last week.
In a message recorded at the airport ahead of his evacuation to India late on Saturday or early Sunday, Khalsa expressed his gratitude to the Indian government for extending help to him and others belonging to the minority community in Afghanistan.
Khalsa was among 23 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus along with several stranded Indians who were onboard the C-17 Globemaster that landed at the Hindon IAF base in Ghaziabad on Sunday. The flight took off from Kabul airport earlier in the day and flew directly to India.
He later broke down while speaking to reporters at Hindon. "Everything that was built in the last 20 years is now finished. It's zero now," he said.
There have been repeated pleas from Sikhs in India about bringing back members of the minority community from Afghanistan after the Islamic militants took over Kabul. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had earlier urged external affairs minister S Jaishankar to arrange for the immediate evacuation of all Indians, including around 200 Sikhs, stranded in a gurdwara in the turmoil-gripped nation.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which has been sharing regular updates on evacuation of Indians and others in need from Afghanistan ever since the Taliban came to power, also wrote the latest flights.
Earlier in the day, a special Air India flight from Kabul ferrying 87 Indians landed in Delhi. The Indians were taken to Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe from Kabul on board a transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi shared early morning tweets in this regard. "Evacuation continues! IAF special repatriation flight with 168 passengers onboard, including 107 Indian nationals, is on its way to Delhi from Kabul," Bagchi wrote.
"Bringing Indians home from Afghanistan! AI 1956 carrying 87 Indians departs from Tajikistan for New Delhi. Two Nepalese nationals also evacuated. Assisted and supported by our Embassy @IndEmbDushanbe. More evacuation flights to follow," he tweeted at around 1:20am.
The Indian embassy in Qatar said 135 Indians, who were evacuated from Kabul to Doha in the last few days, were being sent to India.
India has already evacuated 200 of its citizens, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul, in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on August 15.
The first evacuation flight brought back more than 40 people, mostly staff at the Indian embassy, on Monday. The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people, including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel, journalists and some stranded Indians from Kabul on Tuesday.