Afghan crisis: India brings back its diplomats, officials from Kabul

The C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed at Jamnagar in Gujarat at around 11:15 am en route to the Hindon airbase near the national capital, they said.

New Delhi: India on Tuesday brought back home the Indian ambassador and its staff at the embassy in Kabul in a heavy-lift military transport aircraft in view of the deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital, two days after its take over by the Taliban, people familiar with the development said.

The C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed at Jamnagar in Gujarat at around 11:15 am en route to the Hindon airbase near the national capital, they said.

In the morning, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it was decided that the ambassador and his Indian staff will move to India immediately considering the circumstances in Kabul.

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“In view of the prevailing circumstances, it has been decided that our Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will move to India immediately,” Bagchi tweeted.

The people cited above said the IAF aircraft took off for India at around 11 am from the Kabul airport with over 120 people including Indian ambassador Rudrendra Tandon and other officials and security personnel from the embassy. Some Indian nationals are also learnt to have come back in the aircraft.

It is the second evacuation flight. On Monday, another C-17 aircraft had evacuated around 40 people including a number of Indian embassy staff from Kabul before the operations at the airport in the city were suspended.

The two military aircraft flew into Kabul using the Iranian airspace while avoiding the route through the Pakistani airspace, the people cited above said.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in New York on a four-day visit, spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan.

“Discussed latest developments in Afghanistan with @SecBlinken. Underlined the urgency of restoring airport operations in Kabul. Deeply appreciate the American efforts underway in this regard,” he tweeted at around 3 am.

It is learnt that Jaishankar was also involved in hectic discussions including with US officials on the evacuation of the Indian officials from Kabul.

The US military had taken control of the security at the airport on Monday after thousands of desperate people converged there in the hope of getting on an evacuation flight and leave the country.

Hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Sunday, the Taliban took control of Kabul, capturing power nearly 20 years after a US-led military invasion ousted it in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In a series of tweets, Jaishankar also said that India is monitoring the situation in Kabul continuously.

“Monitoring the situation in Kabul continuously. Understand the anxiety of those seeking to return to India. Airport operations are the main challenge. Discussions on with partners in that regard,” he tweeted.

“Significant UN Security Council discussions today on developments in Afghanistan. Expressed the concerns of the international community. Expect to discuss these during my engagements at the UN,” he added.

In another tweet, he said the government is in constant touch with the Sikh and Hindu community leaders in Kabul, adding their welfare will get its priority attention.

“Given the Kabul situation, important we have accurate information about Indians there. Urge that this be provided by all concerned to the MEA Special Afghanistan Cell,” he said.

The contact details of the Cell are phone number: +919717785379, Email:MEAHelpdeskIndia@gmail.com, Jaishankar said.

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