Afghan Sikh lawmaker Narender Khalsa among evacuees

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Narender Singh Khalsa won a seat in the Wolesi Jirga or the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament in January 2019 – just six months after his father Awtar Singh Khalsa and 10 other Afghan Sikhs were killed in a terrorist attack. His victory in the legislative elections has been hailed as one of the many small steps democracy has taken in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.

But as the imminent return of the Taliban to power suddenly jeopardized any gains made by Afghanistan in its fight against the deadly cocktail of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism, Narender Singh and his family joined more than 167 others. people to board a military plane in the chaotic and overcrowded area. Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and flew to India.

“It’s all over in Afghanistan,” Narender said as he broke down after landing at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Hindon near Delhi early on Sunday. “We’re back to square one now.”

Anarkali Kour Honaryar was also in tears. “It is not easy to leave your own country,” said the member of Meshrano Jirga or the upper house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan.

Anarkali has passionately participated in the struggle for democracy over the past two decades to regain lost ground in Afghanistan. She was a member of the Loya Jirga or the grand assembly that appointed the interim government headed by Hamid Karzai after the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001. She was also a member of the committee that drafted Afghanistan’s new constitution .

Read also | Ashraf Ghani can return to Afghanistan: Taliban leader Khalil Haqqani

She made history when she entered the Meshrano Jirga as the first non-Muslim member of the Afghan parliament in 2011. She saw the atrocities committed against women by the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. That is why she was not convinced when the leaders of the militant organization promised to pursue a different policy and to respect the rights of women when they returned to power. “There are no guarantees at all,” said the dentist turned human rights activist, who, along with his sick mother, father and siblings, left Kabul on the plane to the Indian Air Force (IAF) early Sunday. “The situation is now too bad in Afghanistan. “

The IAF plane evacuated several Afghan Sikh and Hindu families, as well as 107 Indians. The youngest of the evacuees was a little girl, Iknoor Singh.

Taliban militants had arrested some of the evacuees when they arrived near Kabul airport on Saturday. They were released later, however.

“I still can’t believe I could finally make it to India,” Anarkali said, thanking the Indian government and the IAF for evacuating her and her family. “I’ve seen (such evacuations) in Hollywood and Bollywood movies, but never thought it could really happen.”

Another Air India plane carried 87 evacuees to New Delhi on Sunday, who had already been flown to Dushanbe by an IAF plane from Kabul.

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