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Rights body wants new NHRC wing to grant refugee status to Afghans

New Delhi, August 18: The Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG) in a complaint on Wednesday urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to set up a separate wing to grant refugee status to the Afghan nationals who have fled to India in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country.

The Afghans who fled to India in the wake of the Taliban takeover include several prominent politicians of the country.

On August 17, India introduced ‘e-Emergency X-Misc Visa’ with an aim to fast-track visa applications from Afghans for entry into India.

“The grant of ‘e-Emergency X-Misc Visa’ is highly inadequate to address the needs of the Afghans fleeing to India. Visa comes with an expiry date which can be denied at any time. Visa by definition also excludes extension of any humanitarian assistance by the Government and any possibility to work or engage in activities necessary for survival,” said Suhas Chakma, director of RRAG.

“It would be a historic blunder if India fails to grant refugee status and protection to the Afghan nationals who have fled to India irrespective of their religion. The Afghans who fled to India. including the members of parliament, had worked with the Government of India in the last 20 years, which makes them special targets of the Taliban, and therefore, India cannot abandon them by granting only e-visas,” he added.

Having entered the territory of India, they have protections under Article 21 of the Constitution relating to the right to life. Further, the Afghans require humanitarian assistance such as shelter, food, clothing, schooling for their children, health and medical facilities and cash doles or opportunity to work or engage in activities for survival, the organisation pointed out.

In its complaint, the RRAG urged the NHRC to protect the Afghans and set up a division within the NHRC to process their refugee claims.

“The Government of India has been already extending similar humanitarian assistance to about 73,404 Tibetan refugees living in different states in India and 59,506 Sri Lankan refugees staying in 107 camps in Tamil Nadu and one camp in Odisha… Therefore, there is no reason as to why India must not formulate a policy on the Afghan refugees,” Chakma said.

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