India sets up Afghanistan cell to coordinate repatriation as Sikhs, Hindus huddle in Kabul gurdwara

India has said the situation in Afghanistan is being monitored "on a constant basis at high levels".
India has said it will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and "our interests in Afghanistan". (Reuters Photo)
India has said it will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and "our interests in Afghanistan". (Reuters Photo)
Published on Aug 17, 2021 05:47 AM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi

India has set up a cell to coordinate repatriation and related matters in Afghanistan even as Sikh and Hindu families have taken refuge inside a gurdwara in Kabul as hundreds of thousands of people are desperately trying to flee the country after the Taliban seized the capital. The announcement by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came on Monday night hours after he said that India will facilitate the repatriation of Sikhs and Hindus who wish to leave the war-torn country.

"#MEA has set up a Special Afghanistan Cell to coordinate repatriation and other requests from Afghanistan," Bagchi tweeted. Bagchi also posted the contact details of the cell.

Bagchi said earlier in the day the situation in Afghanistan is being monitored "on a constant basis at high levels" and the government will take "all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan". "There are also a number of Afghans who have been our partners in the promotion of our mutual developmental, educational and people to people endeavours. We will stand by them," he said.

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Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Manjinder Singh Sirsa said people from Sikh and Hindu communities have taken refuge at the Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul. "I am in constant touch with President, Gurdwara Committee of Kabul and Sangat who have told me that more than 320 people of minorities living in Ghazni and Jalalabad (including 50 Hindus and more than 270 Sikhs) have taken refuge in Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul in wake of recent developments," said Sirsa.

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"Taliban Leaders have met them and assured them of their safety. We are hopeful that Hindus and Sikhs would be able to live a safe and secure life despite political and military changes happening in Afghanistan," he added.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the top gurdwara body, on Saturday urged the Centre to ensure the safety of Sikhs living in Afghanistan and make arrangements to bring back those who want to come to India.

The Taliban's capture of Kabul on Sunday has stunned the world and brought panic and chaos in Afghanistan. On Monday, authorities shut Afghan airspace for civilian flights and allowed the airfield at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan's capital Kabul only for military use. However, thousands of people gathered at the airport in a last-ditch effort to leave the war-torn country.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021