An Afghan parliamentarian was allegedly deported to Istanbul from India despite holding a diplomatic passport that allows traveling to other countries without visas.
Rangina Kargar, a lawmaker from Afghanistan’s Faryab province, said she landed in India from Turkey on 20 August, five days after the Taliban's takeover of the country, but was returned from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi international airport.
Ms Kargar has been a lawmaker since 2010 and a member of Afghanistan's lower house of parliament known as Wolsei Jirga. She said she had earlier traveled to India on the same passport and was surprised to face such a reaction.
“They deported me, I was treated as a criminal. I was not given my passport in Dubai. It was given back to me only in Istanbul,” the 36-year-old lawmaker told the Indian Express newspaper. “It was not good what they did to me. They told me at the airport, ‘sorry, we cannot do anything for you’. The situation has changed in Kabul and I hope the Indian government helps Afghan women,” she added.
The Taliban is known to curtail women’s freedoms during their past rule and several of Afghanistan’s minorities now fear for their lives.
Her alleged deportation comes just a day after India's foreign minister S Jaishankar underscored the country’s focus “to preserve the historical relationship with Afghanistan and its people”.
An official in the foreign ministry, who did not wish to be named, told The Independent: “It was a mistake and done in haste without consulting higher ups.”
On 22 August, India welcomed two Sikh lawmakers Narinder Singh Khalsa and Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, who arrived on evacuation flights arranged by the Indian government.
Ms Kargar reportedly arrived in India with a return ticket in hand for a doctor's appointment at a Delhi hospital. Her husband and three children were in Istanbul, where the family moved in early July amid the collapse of the Afghan government.
On Thursday, the Indian government reached out to Ms Kargar, apologising for the “erroneous mistake”.
“The joint secretary in-charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran JP Singh spoke to me. He apologised for what had happened and asked me to apply for an e-emergency visa. I asked him if the official passport is no longer valid, but he did not answer. I told him I had tried for an e-visa for my daughter on 19 August but there was no response to the application,” Ms Kargar was quoted as saying in news reports.
The issue of Ms Kargar’s deportation was raised by opposition leaders at an all-party meeting chaired by Mr Jaishankar on Thursday. “We raised the issue of a female diplomat who was deported. They said that they made a mistake, it won’t be repeated and they will look into the matter,” opposition Congress party lawmaker Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters.
The Indian government has so far evacuated over 800 people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan. According to reports, Mr Jaishankar has stressed that the evacuation of Indians is a “top priority”. Around 15,000 people have sought assistance in fleeing Afghanistan.
More than 72 people were also killed and over 140 wounded when two explosions rocked the international airport in Afghanistan on Thursday as evacuations from the country continued.
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