(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Shishir Gupta)
A red alert has gone up within Indian security agencies handling immigration after several unidentified Urdu speaking persons forced their way into an office in Kabul dealing with Indian visas for distribution on behalf of the Indian Missions in Afghanistan and seized un-estimated numbers of Afghan passports with stamped Indian visas. The incident occurred on August 15, the day the Taliban captured Kabul after US forces beat a hasty retreat.
According to persons aware of this development, the Indian immigration agencies have been alerted to this seizure of Afghan passports with Indian visas as there is serious concern that these documents could be used to forge fake passports for terrorists in future. While it is not clear which group could be involved in this attack on the Indian visa outsourcing agency in Kabul, the needle of suspicion points towards Pakistan as the intruders were Urdu speaking. “There is a strong possibility that the Afghan passports with Indian visas could be used to forge passports for terrorists by changing the photograph on the travel document,:” said a source from Kabul. Raisina Hill and security agencies are tight-lipped about the incident.
According to Kabul watchers, a week after the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, a number of shadowy groups are now seen to be operating in the capital city of Afghanistan with large scale searches being carried out. It is learnt that these groups are seizing passports and other travel documents in searches of travel agencies and their owners in Kabul.
The Indian Home Ministry was already on alert when the evacuation exercise was started by the Ministry of External Affairs and National Security teams on August 16 with each passenger screened for his past and travel documents. The Indian mission in Kabul, on its part, is searching its data to dig out names of those Afghans who were given the Indian visas and to the outsourcing agency for distribution. The data is being searched and names are being identified so that those Indian visas could be cancelled.