Over 1,000 visas issued by Indian embassy were stolen in Afghanistan: Report
A senior official said that more than 11,000 visas issued by the Indian embassy in Afghanistan between August 12 and 14 have been cancelled.
A day after the central government said that all Afghan citizens travelling to India must arrive only on e-visa, a senior official said that more than 1,000 visas issued by the Indian embassy were reportedly stolen in Afghanistan. According to news agency ANI, the official said that the stealing of the visas was the reason behind the Centre introducing e-visas in the first place following the fall of Afghanistan.
The official added that more than 11,000 visas issued by the Indian embassy in Afghanistan between August 12 and 14 – days before Taliban regained control over Kabul, have been cancelled after so many visas were stolen. The ANI report cited that till date, nearly 300 e-visas have been issued to Afghan citizens.
The intelligence agencies anticipated the stolen visas could be misused amid the mayhem that is ongoing in Afghanistan, the official told ANI. “As Taliban was approaching Kabul, the Indian embassy in Afghanistan witnessed a surge in visa applications and around 11,000 stamp visas were approved,” the official was quoted as saying.
The Union home ministry announced the cancellation of all stamped visas on August 17 and introduced a new category of emergency electronic visas (e-visas) for Afghan nationals in the wake of the Taliban takeover. The Centre said that priority will be given to those citizens who stood by India or are facing threats from the insurgents’ comeback.
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The ministry said that all Afghans, regardless of their religion, will be eligible for the “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” and applications will be processed in New Delhi since all Indian missions in Afghanistan are non-functional, people familiar with the matter had earlier told Hindustan Times.
“Those who wish to travel to India can apply for this visa online following which applications will be examined and processed in New Delhi,” a government official, who didn’t wish to be named, said.
The senior official mentioned above said that Afghanistan falls under the Prior Reference Category (PRC) list that mandates every visa application to go through a background check on an individual applicant. "It is a time-bound process to clear the application in the shortest time. In the process of issuing e-visas there was intense scrutiny of all applications by all concerned security agencies before giving visa approval," he told ANI, adding that any lapse could pose “threat to national security".
Meanwhile, at an all-party meeting convened by the Centre on Thursday to discuss the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, Union external affairs minister S Jaishankar said that India’s top priority was to evacuate “as many as possible” as the situation in the war-torn nation is “extremely critical.”