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Thursday, December 8, 2022

55 Sikhs were evacuated from Afghanistan by India in order to avoid the Taliban

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As part of attempts to evacuate the persecuted minority under the Taliban-led administration, a special flight carrying 55 Afghan Sikh refugees arrived in India on Sunday at the New Delhi airport. The Afghan Sikh refugees landed at the Indira Gandhi Airport today, according to ANI, and were welcomed by Vikramjit Singh Sahney, international president of the World Punjabi Organization and member of the Punjab Rajya Sabha.

The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandak Committee, Amritsar, in collaboration with the Indian World Forum and the Government of India, planned a special flight flown by Ariana Afghan with a number 315 to evacuate these Afghan Sikh minorities. “The 55 families that were left stranded in Jalalabad and Kabul have safely landed in Delhi today. I appreciate that the Indian government has made e-visas easier to obtain. In the “My Family, My Responsibility” programme, we will rehab them. Vikramjit Singh Sahney, an MP from Punjab, remarked.

With the help of Sahney’s “My Family My Responsibility” programme, 543 Afghan Sikh and Hindu households are receiving complete rehabilitation in West Delhi. The rehabilitation of these people will be a part of the same programme, he said, adding that “We are already rehabilitating 543 families by providing them with monthly household expenditures, housing rent, and medical facilities.”

The Indian government and Prime Minister were congratulated by the Afghan refugees for providing fast e-visas and safely transporting them. Baljeet Singh, an Afghan Sikh who took the same journey home, commented that Afghanistan’s conditions weren’t great. I spent four months in prison. Taliban lied to us and cut off our hair in jail. I’m grateful and delighted to be going back to our religion and India. There are 11–12 people still in the group who, I hope, will return shortly.

“We want to thank the Indian administration for providing us with urgent visas and assisting us in travelling to India. Although there are 55 families here today, many of us still have families back in Afghanistan where about 30-35 people are still missing. They have been given visas by the Indian government, but it is now up to them to decide whether or not they want to go back, according to Sukhbeer Singh Khalsa, a different Afghan Sikh refugee. ”

The AAP MP Sahney responded to a question regarding the remaining Sikh citizens in Afghanistan by stating that they are sevadars and other members of the gurudwara service, and the Indian government is working to evacuate them as well. The Taliban has recommended to let them stay there, claiming that the gurudwaras are a part of national heritage, and the only remaining Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in the country are sevadars and those in the service of gurudwaras. The remaining Sikh and Hindu nationalities, however, are being evacuated, and the government and Taliban are negotiating to do so, according to the AAP MP.

When 55 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus arrived at Delhi Airport on Sunday, it was a time of relief and excitement. This was a unique moment because these people were the final representatives of the Taliban-controlled communities in Afghanistan.

Vikramjit Singh Sahney, the president of the World Punjabi Organization on a global scale and a Rajya Sabha member, welcomed the returning members.

The flight

38 people and 17 kids, including three infants, arrived at the Indira Gandhi Airport in the nation’s capital on Sunday night.

A special aircraft flown by Ariana Afghan on behalf of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandak Committee (SGPC) Amritsar in coordination with the Indian World Forum and the Indian Government made it possible for these 55 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to come home.

They had already received e-visas from the Ministry of External Affairs, and both governments helped with their evacuation.

At least 30 Afghan Sikhs, including toddlers and newborns, arrived in Delhi earlier on August 3 in an unscheduled commercial flight operated by Kam Air out of Kabul. A newborn was among the 21 Afghan Sikhs who were evacuated from Kabul to New Delhi on July 14, prior to this.

Taliban “cheated and tormented”

The returning members described the horrors of living under the Taliban dictatorship when they arrived in India.

According to news agency ANI, Baljeet Singh, who arrived back at the airport on the trip, “The situation in Afghanistan is not very good. I spent four months in prison. Taliban lied to us and cut off our hair in jail. I’m grateful and delighted to be going back to our religion and India. There are 11–12 people still in the group who, I hope, will return shortly.

The Times of India quoted Kirpal Singh (28), who operated a small shop in Kabul and said, “I am delighted that I have found protection for my family in India. In Kabul, I would never have considered sending my kids to school, but thanks to India, I can now envision a brighter future.

“I would want to thank the Indian government and Prime Minister Modi for facilitating the e-visa and helping us return to India,” Mansa Singh, a sevadar at the Kabul gurdwara, told ANI. In addition, I want to thank Puneet Chandok, Vikramjit Singh Sahney, and all the other organisations who helped make this a success so that we could return safely.

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