The government today announced a new category of electronic visa to fast-track applications from Afghans who wish to leave the Taliban-controlled country. The new visa category is called "e-Emergency X-Misc Visa".
Thousands of people, desperate to flee the land-locked nation, have been thronging capital Kabul's airport since Sunday, after the Taliban seized the capital. Five people died in Monday's chaos - it is not known yet whether by firing by US forces or a stampede.
"MHA reviews visa provisions in view of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new category of electronic visa called "e-Emergency X-Misc Visa" introduced to fast-track visa applications for entry into India," the spokesperson of the Union Home Ministry tweeted.
MHA reviews visa provisions in view of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new category of electronic visa called "e-Emergency X-Misc Visa" introduced to fast-track visa applications for entry into India.@HMOIndia@PIB_India@DDNewslive@airnewsalerts— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) August 17, 2021
Unprecedented scenes showed people trying to to board the few flights available. Social media videos appeared to show people climbing onto the fuselage of some aircraft before take-off. At least two persons who tried to leave by clutching onto the wings of the aircraft fell to their death.
India said it would "facilitate repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan" and said Hindus and Sikhs from the country will be given priority. "The government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan," foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.
Meanwhile, India has evacuated its ambassador and the embassy staff in Kabul and are bringing them home in a special air force flight.
In view of the prevailing circumstances, it has been decided that our Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will move to India immediately.— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 17, 2021
The Taliban's rapid conquest of Kabul followed Joe Biden's decision to withdraw US forces after 20 years of war that he described as costing more than $1 trillion. The speed at which Afghan cities fell, in days rather than the months predicted by US intelligence, and fear of a Taliban crackdown on freedom of speech and human rights, especially women's rights, have sparked criticism. In a televised address, Mr Biden said he did not regret his decision.