NEW DELHI: Three copies of Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib and 75 people, including 46 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, are being evacuated from war-ravaged Afghanistan on an IAF plane, people coordinating the evacuation efforts with the Indian government said on Monday.
Nearly 200 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are still stranded in Afghanistan, said Puneet Singh Chandhok, president of the Indian World Forum, an organisation coordinating the evacuation efforts with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
“These people have taken shelter at the Karte Parwan gurdwara in Kabul, which is close to the airport,” he added. Announcing the evacuation flight, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri took to Twitter to say, “Three Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are being escorted to the IAF aircraft at Kabul Airport. Forty-six Afghan Hindus and Sikhs along with stranded Indian nationals are blessed to return on the same flight.”
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“Seventy-five people are on the flight. Three Guru Granth Sahib ji are also being brought to India,” Chandhok said.
Referring to those still stranded in Kabul, he said the 10-kilometre-long drive to the international airport from the Gurdwara Karte Parwan through various checkpoints is one of the biggest challenges in the rescue efforts.
Around 100 more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are likely to be evacuated in a couple of hours, Chandhok added.
The evacuation of these 46 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus at such a challenging time is a big relief for us, said Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, which is also coordinating with the Indian government in the evacuation mission.
“US security forces escorted these people to the Kabul airport,” he said.
India on Monday brought back 146 citizens on four different flights from Qatar’s capital Doha, days after they were evacuated from Afghanistan by NATO and American aircraft amid the deteriorating security situation in the war-torn country.
On Sunday, it had evacuated 392 individuals from Kabul on three flights.
Among them were 24 Afghan Sikhs, including two Afghan MPs — Narinder Singh Khalsa and Anarkali Kaur Honaryar — and their families.
India is carrying out the evacuation missions in coordination with the US and several other friendly countries.