After being stranded in Kabul for nearly four months, 99 Afghans belonging to the Sikh and Hindu communities arrived here on Friday afternoon, Puneet Singh Chandhok, coordinator of the evacuation, said in a public statement.
This is the first evacuation after August when the Taliban took over Kabul and deposed the Government of President Ashraf Ghani. The passengers were earlier driven from the gurdwara of Kabul where they had gathered. The Government of India chartered a Kab Air flight (RQ 4401), which flew them to Delhi. The passengers carried two Sri Guru Granth Sahib that were worshipped in gurdwaras.
India evacuated several hundred Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan in August but the airlift operation could not be completed as the Taliban failed to open the airport in Kabul after the United States withdrew all military personnel from Afghanistan.
The Taliban set-up has not been recognised by the international community and there are several difficulties in establishing an aviation connection with Afghanistan. The Sikhs and the Hindus were not harassed by the Taliban, barring a few incidents where Taliban guards entered the gurdwara in Kabul and a businessman was kidnapped and kept captive for sometime.
There remain a couple of hundreds more Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the crisis-torn country. Over the last four months, the Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan have repeatedly reached out to the Government of India seeking their evacuation.