New Delhi: India on Wednesday cancelled all previously issued visas to Afghan nationals who are presently not in the country and has asked them to travel to India only on an electronic visa (e-Visa). Sources said the decision has been taken based on reports that several of those issued physical visas before the Indian Mission closed down in the country have misplaced their passports.
“Owing to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and streamlining of the visa process by introduction of the e-Emergency X-Misc visa, it has been decided that all Afghan nationals henceforth must travel to India only on e-Visa,” a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Wednesday.
“Keeping in view some reports that certain passports of Afghan nationals have been misplaced, previously issued visas to all Afghan nationals, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect. Afghan nationals wishing to travel to India may apply for e-Visa at http://www.indianvisaonline.gov.in,” it added.
Sources said those who have misplaced their passports need to apply for a new passport in Kabul or elsewhere and then apply for an e-Visa. Those who were holding an Indian visa but could not travel to India will also have to re-apply for an e-Visa.
The statement comes a day after the Taliban announced that they would give no further extension to the deadline of August 31 for American forces to leave Kabul even as they urged the US not to evacuate Afghans. The Kabul airport is currently secured by American forces.
Assuring Afghan nationals of security and announcing there would be no reprisals for having worked with American forces or any other foreign force, the Taliban said on Wednesday they would not allow Afghans to cross pickets in Kabul to reach the airport. Taliban also suggested that a large number of Afghans were fleeing not so much out of a sense of insecurity as seeing this as an economic opportunity in the West.
India too has been evacuating both its citizens working in Afghanistan and Afghan nationals fleeing the Taliban rule. Over a week ago, India announced an e-Visa facility for Afghans in the Emergency X-Misc category to help them travel to India. The visa will be valid for six months.
Earlier, the e-Visa facility was not available to Afghans and Afghanistan also came under the Prior Reference Category (PRC) of countries for grant of visa, which means Afghan nationals have to be cleared by MHA for any visit. Others in this category include nationals of Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani origin and stateless persons.
Since August 16, India has evacuated over 800 people from Afghanistan. A significant number of these have been Afghan nationals. India carried out the evacuation missions in coordination with the US and several other friendly countries.
The Taliban have swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities, including Kabul, in the backdrop of the withdrawal of the US forces.