Sikhs evacuated from Afghanistan reach Punjab's Ludhiana, thank Indian govt

LUDHIANA: Afghan Sikhs who reached Ludhiana in Punjab thanked the Government of India for their safe evacuation from war-torn Afghanistan.

One of them, Gurdit Singh used to run a grocery shop in Kabul. His family has been living in Afghanistan for sixty years. They are among the Sikh families that have been brought to India from Afghanistan.

Speaking to ANI, Singh said, “The situation is very critical after the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan. There is open firing in every street and lane. There is a panic among the people. Be it Hindu, Sikh or Muslim, everyone wants to leave Afghanistan. People are waiting with their children outside the airport to leave Afghanistan.”

“People were in distress even 21 years ago during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But this time, people want to leave the country. There is so much rush to the airport that half an hour drive is taking 18 hours. We decided to leave everything and come to India. There is no better country in the world than India where people of all religions live in peace and harmony. We are grateful to the Government of India,” he explained.

He said that over 100 Sikhs and Hindus are still stranded in a gurdwara in Kabul.

“We request the Government to bring them to India as soon as possible so that their lives can be saved,” he urged.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday informed that India has evacuated more than 550 people from Afghanistan on six separate flights. Of these, more than 260 were Indian nationals.

“We were able to bring out some Afghan nationals as well as nationals from other countries. Of these, many of them were Sikhs and Hindus. Primarily, our focus will be on Indian nationals, but we’ll also stand by Afghans who stood by us,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during the press conference in New Delhi.

India has opened the window of E-visas for the tenure of six months for Afghan nationals. India is also holding discussions on the position of Afghans who are already here for health checkups and studies, etc before the Taliban seized power in Kabul. (ANI)