In a historic development, on August 24, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reached the Indira Gandhi International Airport to welcome the evacuated Indians from Afghanistan. MoS Minister of External Affairs V Muraleedharan and other top leaders were also present there. Puri held a press briefing to mention the evacuation status in Afghanistan, the condition of Indian nationalities in Afghanistan and the Government of India's approach towards persecuted minorities and the Sikh community, worldwide.
Visuals of Singh carrying the swaroop of three Guru Granth Sahib on his head barefooted hit the bulletin after people who had taken shelter in a Gurudwara in Kabul brought along with them the holy book.
ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਹੈ— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) August 24, 2021
ਤਿਸੁ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ।।
Blessed to receive & pay obeisance to three holy Swaroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from Kabul to Delhi a short while ago.@narendramodi @AmitShah @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/91iX91hfR7
Speaking at the press briefing, Puri stated that around 228 Indians have been brought back while 77 Afghan Sikhs have been evacuated so far. An Air India flight safely brought back 78 passengers including 46 Afghanistan Sikhs to the national capital on August 24. These passengers initiated the flight from Kabul to Tajikistan on an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft.
Lauding PM Modi's consideration for the Sikh community, Hardeep Singh Puri stated that there existed no doubt that Afghan Sikhs would take refuge in India, given "PM's commitment to Sikh community worldwide."
While speaking to the media, Singh informed that three swaroop of Guru Granth Sahib have been brought back, adding "it was a moving and emotional moment for me as a Sikh."
Speaking of the Sikh community, Puri recalled the May 2020's Gurudwara Sahib attacks in Kabul and said that 383 Afghan Sikhs were aided by GoI to be brought back.
Additionally, Puri stated that PM Modi has a "special connection with Sikhs" as the community has always served in war-ravaged countries. He further said that the community contains a sturdy "humanitarian tradition" that has provided service in midst of the pandemic and even a civil war. Puri noted that Sikhs as well as other community members who have been taking shelter at Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul amidst a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
Speaking of the Sikh community and his affiliations with the same, Puri said, "Guru Nanak had reached Kabul in 1521. He was in many aspects the first environmentalist advocated environment protection . He was one of the pioneers of gender equality and empowerment."
After safely carrying the Guru Granth Sahib, Hardeep Singh Puri said that he was 'blessed' to have received the three holy swaroop. He also assured the return of the remaining people from Afghanistan. "I want to start by thanking PM who made it possible to carry out these rescue operations to bring our brethren who are in difficult circumstances there (Afghanistan). It was a rescue operation to save our brothers and sisters. Arrangements are also in place for the remaining people. We're in constant touch with them," he said.
"The evacuees have been RT-PCR tested, in a few hours they will make their way and a warm welcome awaits them. Our BJP workers are here to welcome everyone. We have had the tradition of welcoming our brothers from the neighbourhood. And today that has been manifested into reality," he added.