Two Afghan senators were among the 24 Sikhs who landed in India this morning, looking to escape the Taliban, which now controls the war-torn nation. One of them, Senator Narender Singh Khalsa, was in tears.
Asked about how the situation was in Afghanistan, he broke down. "I feel like crying... Everything that was built in the last 20 years is now finished. It's zero now," he told reporters at the Hindon air base near Delhi, where their flight -- a special flight from the Indian Air Force -- landed this morning.
The C-17 aircraft brought in 168 passengers, including 107 Indians. Indians have been allowed to operate two flights a day from Kabul to evacuate its stranded citizens. Among them was Anarkali Honaryar, a second senator. Indians from Afghanistan also came in three other flights -- operated by Air India, IndiGo and Vistara - landed in Delhi from Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe and Qatar's Doha earlier today.
India has been allowed to operate two flights per day from Kabul to evacuate its nationals stranded in Afghanistan, the news agency reported quoting government sources.
Today's evacuation comes almost a week after the last batch of Indians -- the staff at the Indian Embassy in Kabul including Indo Tibetan Border Force personnel who were there for security -- reached Gujarat's Jamnagar.
Many of the evacuees are from a Gurdwara in Kabul, where they have been staying for days. They will be moved to Delhi's Bangla Sahib Gurdwara next.
"We had to come repeatedly to the airport. The Taliban are cruel, barbarian people. We had to go through many hardships. Even at the airport the Taliban were insistent, saying 'Don't leave. Why are you leaving?' We thank the Modi government for getting us to safety," added another Sikh passenger.
"Situation was deteriorating in Afghanistan, so I came here with my daughter and two grandchildren. Our Indian brothers and sisters came to our rescue. They (Taliban) burnt down my house. I thank India for helping us," said another Afghan national.
India has assured that it would extend help to Hindus and Sikhs, as well as its friends in Afghanistan who need help.
"India must not only protect our citizens, but also provide refuge to Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India. We must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance," PM Modi was quoted as saying at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee of Security last week.