Around 100 Indians, including their children and spouses, yet to be evacuated from Afghanistan: NGOs write to PMO, MEA
Nearly 100 Indian nationals, including their children and spouses, and more than 200 Afghans are yet to be evacuated from Afghanistan – which fell back in the hands of Islamist militant group Taliban two months ago. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Office and senior officials of the Union external affairs ministry (MEA), the India world forum (IWF) and many other humanitarian NGOs sought evacuation of stranded Hindu and Sikh citizens from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, news agency ANI reported.
“Sikh leaders and NGOs including Gurudwara are receiving multiple distressed calls from Kabul from Indian nationals and Afghan nationals of India origin,” former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGPC) Manjit Singh wrote in the letter dated October 20.
A majority of these people await e-visas despite having valid visas in the past, and travel history in India, the letter further stated.
Notably, the MEA in August, amid the turmoil of US and foreign forces pulling out of Afghanistan, had cancelled all previously issued visas to Afghans who were not in India and announced that they can travel to the country only on e-visas. Additionally, the ministry had introduced a new category called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” of electronic/e-visa in order to fast track applications of Afghan citizens wanting to enter India.
"This is in regard to our earlier requests addressed to the Government of India for issuance of visas to Afghan nationals belonging to Hindu and Sikh community i.e., minorities,” a letter of president of Guru Singh Sabha Karte Parwan, Kabul, read.
The ANI report added that as many as 208 applications submitted by the Hindu and Sikh community members of Afghanistan are yet to be processed by the Indian government. Furthermore, details of charter flights for the evacuation of these minorities from Kabul, submitted by an Iran-based private travel and logistics company to the MEA, are also under review.
Last month, Hindustan Times reported citing people familiar with the development that the Taliban have been urging India to resume commercial flights. The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, which is now controlled by the interim Taliban government, had sent a formal letter to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on September 7 regarding the matter. The formal communication was signed by Taliban acting aviation and transport minister Hameedullah Akhunzada.