NEW DELHI — More than 11,000 visas, issued by the Indian embassy in Afghanistan between Aug. 12 and Aug. 14 were canceled after it was informed that almost 1,000 visas were stolen. This prompted the Central government of India to introduce e-Visas after the fall of Kabul.

Around 300 e-visas have been issued to Afghan nationals to date.

A senior official said that the intelligence agencies anticipated that the stolen visas could be misused amid chaos in the neighboring country.

“As the Taliban was approaching Kabul, the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan witnessed a surge in visa applications, and around 11,000 stamp visas were approved,” said the official.

Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15 and during the meeting that was called after the developments in Afghanistan, the possibility of some anti-India elements misusing the pre-issued visas and/or the stolen passports to gain entry into the country came up.

On Aug. 17, the union home ministry ordered the cancellation of all stamped visas and people have to apply for e-visas to enter India. All concerned holders were informed about the development.

The official further added that Afghanistan falls under the Prior Reference Category list which mandates that every visa application has to go through a background check on an individual applicant.

“It is a time-bound process to clear the application in the shortest time. In the process of issuing e-visas there was intense scrutiny of all applications by all concerned security agencies before giving visa approval,” said the official.

“In the case of stamp visas, the verification is a big issue, and going through the present situation in Afghanistan lapses could pose a threat to national security.”

The Ministry of External Affairs of India had, on Aug. 19, started their helpline with updated details for the evacuation and help purposes.

“Additional Numbers Added to MEA’s 24×7 Special Afghanistan Cell UPDATED details: Phone numbers: +91-11-49016783, +91-11-49016784, +91-11-49016785

WhatsApp numbers: +91 8010611290, +91 9599321199, +91 7042049944 Email: Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

The Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India, on Aug.25, had decided that all Afghan nationals henceforth must travel to India only on e-visa. The government decided the same owing to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan, and streamlined the visa process by introducing the “E-Emergency X-Misc visa.”

Keeping in view some reports that some passports of Afghan nationals have been misplaced, previously issued visas to all Afghan citizens, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect, said an official release by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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