New Delhi: A special flight carrying 55 Afghan Sikh minorities fleeing from Afghanistan arrived in India at New Delhi airport on Sunday, as a part of efforts to evacuate the distressed minorities in the Taliban-led nation.
International President of World Punjabi Organisation and Punjab Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Vikramjit Singh Sahney received the Afghan refugees who arrived at the Indira Gandhi Airport. A special flight operated by Ariana Afghan with a number 315 was organised by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandak Committee, Amritsar in coordination with the Indian World Forum and the Government of India to evacuate these Afghan minorities.
"The 55 families which were stranded in Kabul, Jalalabad have arrived safely in Delhi today. I am thankful to the Indian government to facilitate e-visas. We will rehabilitate them in the "My family My responsibility" programme." Punjab MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney said.
Sahney is running a programme "My family My responsibility" under which 543 Afghan Sikhs and Hindu families are being rehabilitated in West Delhi by providing them with all facilities.
He said, "We are already rehabilitating 543 families by providing them with monthly household expenditures, house rent and medical facilities, and the rehabilitation of these people will be a part of the same programme."
The Afghan refugees thanked the Indian government and Prime Minister to provide urgent e-visas and safely evacuating them.
An Afghan Sikh, Baljeet Singh, who returned on the same flight, said, "The condition is not very well in Afghanistan. I was imprisoned for four months. Taliban have cheated us, they butchered our hair in prison. I am thankful and happy to return to India and to our religion. There are 11-12 people left behind who will also return soon, I hope."
"We would like to thank the Indian government to give us urgent visas and help us to reach India. We are 55 families who have arrived here today, but many of us still have families left behind as around 30-35 people are left stranded in Afghanistan. They have been issued visas from the Indian government, but it is their wish now if they want to return or not," Sukhbeer Singh Khalsa, another Afghan Sikh refugee said.
Mansa Singh, a sevadar at Kabul gurdwara said, I would like to thank the Indian government and PM Modi to facilitate with e-visa and help us return to India. Besides, I would like to thank Vikramjit Singh Sahney and Puneet Chandowk and all other organisations who made this a success; hence, we returned safely."
"The situation of Afghanistan is not hidden, we have come here for the safety of our kids, and urge the Indian government to evacuate our other 30 brothers who are left behind in Afghanistan," he added.
The Sikh refugees told that there are still some 30-35 Afghan Sikhs who are stranded in Afghanistan, and said that the government has provided them e-visas but it is their own wish to stay back.
On being asked about the remaining Sikh nationals in Afghanistan, the AAP MP Sahney said that they are the sevadars and others in the service of gurudwaras, the Indian government is trying to evacuate them as well.
"The remaining Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in the country are sevadars and those in the service of gurudwaras, the Taliban has urged to let them stay there saying that those gurudwaras are a part of national heritage. But the government is in talks with the Taliban to evacuate the remaining Sikh and Hindu nationals, and we will hopefully bring them back to their country," the AAP MP said.
He thanked the government of India and all other organisations who helped to make the mission successful.
"Since the Taliban took over the country situation is not under control, and an evacuation process was underway. The Government of India played a significant role and held talks with the Taliban to evacuate the Sikh nationals. We are working as a family and would like to thank all the teams and organisations who have helped in this," Sahney said.
Indian World Forum has coordinated and facilitated humanitarian evacuation for more than 300 Afghan Hindus and Sikhs post the regime change in Kabul.
68 Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have arrived till date after the attack at Gurudwara Karte Parwan in Kabul. SGPC is bearing the airfare for the same. On August 3, at least 30 Afghan Sikhs including children and infants, arrived in Delhi by a non-scheduled commercial flight from Kabul, operated by Kam Air.
On July 14, a total of 21 Afghan Sikhs, including an infant, were evacuated from Kabul to New Delhi on Kam Air, the largest private Afghan airline.
There were about 700 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan in 2020, but a large number of them left the country following the Taliban's takeover on August 15, 2021.
Four Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib still remains in Afghanistan. Due to a lack of cooperation from the local administration in Kabul, the same could not be transferred to India as per religious protocol.
Ever Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, there has been a series of attacks on Sikhs.
On June 18 this year, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacked Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul which claimed the lives of about 50 people.
In October, last year 15 to 20 terrorists entered a Gurdwara in the Kart-e-Parwan District of Kabul and tied up the guards.
In March 2020, a deadly attack took place at Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Gurudwara in Kabul's Short Bazaar area in which 27 Sikhs were killed and several were injured. Islamic State terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.