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Human Rights Commission urged to protect Afghans by granting refugee status

NEW DELHI: The Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG) urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday to protect the Afghan nationals who have fled to India in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country by granting them refugee status.

Despite the volatile situation in Afghanistan, India announced a new category of electronic visa called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” on August 17, 2021, with the goal of fast-track visa applications from Afghans for entry into India.

The “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” granted is highly inadequate to address the needs of Afghans migrating to India. Visas have an expiration date and can be revoked at any moment, said Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.

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By definition, a visa includes the government’s provision of humanitarian assistance as well as the ability to work or engage in activities necessary for survival. As a result, the grant of an emergency visa ignores the requirements of Afghans who have fled to India and the reality that they are unable to return to Afghanistan since the Taliban has gained control of the entire country and refoulement would result in torture or death, Suhas added.

If India fails to grant refugee status and protection to Afghan nationals who have fled to India, regardless of their religion, it will be a historic blunder. Afghans who fled to India, including members of parliament have cooperated with the Indian government for the past 20 years making them special targets for the Taliban and India cannot forsake them by issuing merely e-visas, further stated Suhas.

They have protections under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which relates with the right to life, now that they have entered Indian territory.
Furthermore, the Afghans require humanitarian assistance such as housing, food, clothing, schooling for their children, health and medical facilities, as well as cash doles or the opportunity to work or engage in activities in order to survive.

The Afghans who fled to India in the wake of the Taliban take over include Mr Wahidullah Kaleemzai, Member of Parliament (MP) from Wardak; Mr Abdul Aziz Hakimi, MP from Parwan; MP Mr Abdul Qadir Zazai; Senator Mr Malem Lala Gul; Mr Jamil Karzai, former MP and second cousin to former Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Mr Shukria Esakhail, MP from Baghlan; Mr Mohamamd Khan, Senator; Mr Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, former Finance Minister; Mr Mohammad Sharif Sharifi, brother of former Vice-President Younus Qanooni; Ms Mariam Solaimankhail, MP and Mr Qais Mowafaq, Senior Advisor to Afghanistan’s Upper House.

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