Kolkata, Aug 18 : Many people from Darjeeling and the Terai region in West Bengal are stranded in war-torn Afghanistan and the state government is writing to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to bring them back at the earliest, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday.
“So far we have been able to trace more than 200 people who are stranded in different parts of Afghanistan. Some are stranded in Kabul and some are in the other parts of the country. The Chief Secretary is writing a letter to the MEA requesting it to bring back the citizens as quickly as possible,” Banerjee said during a press conference here.
“Most of them are from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Terai region. We are trying to find out whether there are more people,” she added.
However, sources in the state Home Department didn’t rule out the possibility of the presence of more people in trouble-torn Afghanistan, which was taken over by the Taliban on Sunday.
“We have been able to gather this information within a short span of time. We have asked the district administrations to find out if there are more people in Afghanistan from the state,” a senior official of the state Home Department said.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Banerjee had asked the Home Department to find out if there are Bengalis stranded in Afghanistan and accordingly the department passed on the information to all the districts immediately.
“We have asked the district magistrates to inform the top echelons of the administration directly if anyone comes and informs them that their relatives are stuck there, including their names, addresses, whereabouts in Afghanistan, phone numbers and other details. The information will be communicated to Delhi directly,” the official said.
“At the moment, New Delhi is increasingly working to repatriate all the Indians safely from Afghanistan. So if anyone from the state is stuck there, it will be reported directly to Delhi. At the same time, the local administration has been asked to keep an eye on the needs of the Afghans in Bengal,” the official said.
Officers of the Kolkata Police are also working to find out if any resident from the city or their relatives are stuck in Afghanistan.
There are also a large number of ‘Kabuliwalas’ in Kolkata who came to the city for business from Afghanistan.
“These people don’t know in what condition their families are. We are also trying to get in touch with them and are trying to establish contact with their families,” a senior Kolkata Police officer said.