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Afghan crisis: Bengal, Karnataka step up efforts to bring back its citizens, France evacuates 21 Indians from Kabul

CM Mamata Banerjee said that the stranded West Bengal residents are from Kalimpong and Terai who were working in Afghanistan.

Published: 18th August 2021 07:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2021 07:59 PM   |  A+A-

Taliban fighters pose for photograph in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that her government is coordinating with the Centre for the safe return of over 200 people from the state who are still stranded in Afghanistan.

She said that the stranded West Bengal residents are from Kalimpong and Terai who were working in Afghanistan.

"The chief secretary will write to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to bring them back," she told reporters. Holding that the Afghanistan crisis is a big problem, she said, "We must first look after the safety of Indians."

To a question whether the BJP government at the Centre should revisit the immigration policy in light of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, "It is a sensitive issue and a major policy decision. The MEA is monitoring the crisis situation. I shouldn't comment on it at present."

The Karnataka government on Wednesday appointed a senior IPS Officer as nodal officer to coordinate with the Central government to bring back residents of the state from Afghanistan.

"As there is a conflict situation in Afghanistan, to bring back Indians stranded there, the central government has already started a helpline.

To coordinate with the central government and bring back Kannadigas safely from there, Umesh Kumar, IPS, Additional Director General of Police CID, Bengaluru, has been appointed as nodal officer," an official notification said.

Stating that the officer will be coordinating with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding residents of Karnataka in Afghanistan, an official statement from the government said, a control room has been established in this regard.

Information may be sent to the following numbers and email id: 080-22094498 080-22942628, 9480800187, afghan_kar@ksp.gov.in, it said.

The information needs to be furnished are-informant name, contact number, address, relationship.

Also name of persons staying in Afghanistan, their present location, occupation/purpose of visit, passport details, date of arrival in Afghanistan, it further said, adding that information may also be furnished directly to MEA.

India on Tuesday had 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.

Earlier in the day, state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said there are 339 Afghans in Karnataka.

Out of them 192 are students, and the Basavaraj Bommai administration will talk to the Centre on renewing their visas and will provide them "protection".

Meanwhile, the first evacuation flight by France from Kabul included 21 Indian nationals deployed for providing security at the French embassy in the Afghan capital.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had on Tuesday thanked his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian for evacuating the Indian nationals from Kabul to Paris, in the backdrop of the Taliban capturing power in the Afghan city.

"The first French evacuation flight from #Kabul yesterday included 21 Indian nationals: the elite Gurkhas who were ensuring the security of the French Embassy," French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain tweeted on Wednesday.

He said France has been actively coordinating with India on developments relating to Afghanistan.

"As discussed in call between Min @JY_LeDrian & Min@DrSJaishankar, France coordinates actively with India on #Afghanistan, especially at #UNSC," Lenain said.

After his telephonic conversation with Le Drian, Jaishankar said the evolving situation in Afghanistan was discussed.

"Discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan with Foreign Minister @JY_LeDrian. We will continue to coordinate in the UN Security Council. Thank him for evacuating 21 Indian nationals from Kabul to Paris," Jaishankar tweeted.

The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key Afghan towns and cities in the country following the withdrawal of the US forces from the country.

Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country for an unknown destination.

India on Tuesday completed the evacuation of all its diplomats and other staff members from Kabul in view of escalating tension and deteriorating security situation in the city.



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