Guru Granth Sahib, 44 Afghan Sikhs flown out of Afghanistan. Blessed, says Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri
As India evacuated hundreds of people, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, three copies of Guru Granth Sahib were also flown out of Kabul, where the situation has been chaotic with a number of people dying and making a desperate dash out of Taliban controlled Afghanistan. Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and V Muraleedharan received the copies of Guru Granth Sahib and 44 Afghan Sikhs who reached India from Kabul on a special Air India flight after a stopover in Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe.
"Blessed to receive & pay obeisance to three holy Swaroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from Kabul to Delhi a short while ago,” Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted along with a video showing him carrying a copy of the holy book.
Puri also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for carrying out rescue operations from Afghanistan and said the government is in touch with those in the country. The minister also said all the copies of Guru Granth Sahib have undergone the Covid-19 test.
News agency PTI reported citing people familiar with the development that the three copies of Guru Granth Sahib will be taken to Guru Arjan Dev Ji Gurdwara in the Capital’s New Mahavir Nagar.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader RP Singh and president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee Manjinder Singh Sirsa were also present at the airport. "I request PM & HM to amend CAA and extend the cut-off date from 2014 to 2021 so that people coming from Afghanistan get benefitted & lead a safe life here and their children are able to study here," Sirsa later said in a tweet.
"The Afghan Sikhs will stay at a hotel in Karol Bagh till further arrangements are made," Kanv Bhalla, an entrepreneur coordinating rehabilitation efforts on behalf of New York-based philanthropist Mandeep Singh Sobti.
The Afghan Sikhs were among the 78 people, including 25 Indian nationals, to be brought to India. They were evacuated from Taliban-controlled Kabul to Dushanbe in an aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) a day before. "Helping in the safe return from Afghanistan. AI 1956 enroute to Delhi from Dushanbe carrying 78 passengers, including 25 Indian nationals. Evacuees were flown in from Kabul on an @IAF_MCC aircraft," Arindam Bagchi, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson, tweeted earlier in the day.
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Puneet Singh Chandhok, the president of the Indian World Forum, an organisation coordinating the evacuation efforts with the ministry of external affairs and the IAF, said there are nearly 200 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who are still stranded in Afghanistan. Chandhok said they have taken shelter at the Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul, which is close to the airport. Around 75 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are likely to be evacuated soon, Chandhok said.
People taking shelter inside the gurdwara have said that the 10-kilometre drive to the Kabul airport through various checkpoints is one of the biggest challenges in the rescue efforts, according to news agency PTI. Those checkpoints are mostly manned by Taliban fighters.
India has stepped up efforts to evacuate its citizens as well as its Afghans from Kabul amid the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital and other parts of the country. India has so far evacuated hundreds of people from Afghanistan since August 16, a day after Kabul was overtaken by the Taliban.