60 Afghans, including 23 Hindus and Sikhs, among 400 airlifted | India News - Times of India

60 Afghans, including 23 Hindus and Sikhs, among 400 airlifted | India News – Times of India

While India’s evacuation efforts in Afghanistan continued to focus on its own nationals, among the close to 400 people flown to India on Sunday were also about 60 Afghans, including 23 Sikhs and Hindus.
With many people, including foreigners, now seeking help from India in their bid to exit Afghanistan, the Centre has deployed a team of diplomats and defence ministry officials at the Kabul airport to coordinate evacuation efforts with the US and other countries facilitating the exercise.
The 60 Afghans, including two lawmakers Anarkali Honaryar and Narender Singh Khalsa, were brought out amid reports that the Taliban were not allowing locals to leave the country. India had earlier assured Afghan nationals, including members of minority communities, with ties to it that it would prioritise visas for them and set up an emergency e-visa service for them.
An Afghan woman evacuee, who touched down in India with her daughter and two grandchildren, told ANI, “The Taliban burnt down my house. I thank India for helping us.”
“India is our second home. Even if we are Afghans and live in that country, people often call us Hindustanis. I thank India for extending its helping hand,” Khalsa told reporters at the Hindon airbase, according to PTI. “I feel like crying. Everything is finished. It is a very difficult and painful decision to leave the country. Everything has been snatched away,” a visibly despondent Khalsa said. “They (Taliban) separated us from others while going to Kabul airport yesterday (Saturday) as we were Afghan nationals. We fled from there because small children were with us,” he said.
Honaryar said, “I thank India, PM Modi, the ministry of external affairs and the Indian Air Force for lifting us from Kabul and saving my life.”
Evacuees from Kabul (left) wait for their documents to be verified after landing at the Indian Air Force base at Hindon in Ghaziabad on Sunday.
Alladad Qureshi, an Afghan national whose wife hails from Kashmir, expressed a sense of relief as he interacted with media at Hindon. Manik Mandal, a jeweller who had gone to Afghanistan six months ago in search of livelihood, smiled as he said, “We faced a lot of problems in Kabul, but our government saved us.”
After the chaotic scenes witnessed at the US-controlled airport, Reuters reported from Kabul on Sunday that the Taliban had managed to restore some order outside the airport by making sure people formed queues outside the main gates and by not allowing crowds to gather at the perimeter. A Taliban spokesperson was quoted as saying the group was working to provide “smooth exit” to people.
The return of Indian diplomats and other officials to Kabul in a military aircraft comes barely a week after India withdrew all diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of all 192 diplomatic staff members from Afghanistan saw some criticism as the Taliban repeatedly assured all diplomats in Kabul that they were not going to face any security threat. The Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, had told TOI that it didn’t want India to recall its diplomats. According to media reports from Kabul, the Taliban even escorted Indian diplomats and others to the airport last week to facilitate their evacuation.
Junior foreign minister V Muraleedharan was quoted as saying on Sunday that there were around 500 people stranded in Afghanistan “as per the preliminary estimation” and that evacuation was taking place in a “flawless manner”.

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