NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday directed officials to ensure safe evacuation of all Indian citizens from Afghanistan and to provide refuge to Sikhs and Hindus wanting to come to India from there, as he chaired a crucial high-level meeting in the backdrop of the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country, sources said.
Chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, Modi also said India must provide all possible help to its Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance, official sources said.
Modi directed officials concerned to undertake all necessary measures to ensure safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days.
The Cabinet Committee on Security is the apex government body that deals with the issues of national security.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attended the meeting, besides senior officials, including NSA Ajit Doval, Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and India's Ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon.
Tandon was on the evacuation flight from Kabul that landed in Jamnagar earlier on Tuesday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar could not attend the meeting as he is not in the country.
According to sources, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was briefed in detail on the current and evolving security and political situation in Afghanistan.
The CCS was also briefed on the recent evacuations of Indian Embassy officials and some members of the Indian community, as well as some members of Indian media.
India has brought back the Indian ambassador Tandon and all staff members from its embassy in Kabul in two military transport aircraft in the wake of escalating tension and deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital after its takeover by the Taliban.
A military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force brought back from Kabul around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians on Tuesday.
Another flight had evacuated around 40 staffers from Kabul on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the MEA said that the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan.
Soon after the second military aircraft landed in Hindon completing a two-phase evacuation mission, Jaishankar, who is in New York on a four-day visit, said the evacuation of the Indian embassy staff from Kabul was a "difficult and complicated" exercise.
While Jaishankar spoke to his American counterpart Antony Blinken, NSA Doval had a conversation with President Joe Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday evening on the evacuation of the Indian staff, people familiar with the matter said.
In a tweet, Jaishankar said he thanked his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian for evacuating 21 Indian nationals from Kabul to Paris.
Sources said that both Jaishankar and Doval were involved in ensuring the smooth evacuation of around 190 Indian diplomats, officials and security personnel from the embassy in Kabul.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres here and discussed the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
"Good to meet UN Secretary General @antonioguterres. Our discussions focused on Afghanistan, following upon the Security Council meeting yesterday," Jaishankar said in a tweet.
Jaishankar arrived in New York on Monday as the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, the second time in just over 10 days that the powerful UN body met under India's Presidency for the month of August to discuss the rapidly deteriorating and unraveling situation in the war-torn country.
"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," Jaishankar had tweeted on Monday.
He also discussed the "latest developments" in Afghanistan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and "underlined the urgency of restoring airport operations in Kabul. Deeply appreciate the American efforts underway in this regard."
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Blinken spoke with Jaishankar "today about Afghanistan and the developing situation there."
Jaishankar will chair two high-level signature events this week under India's current Security Council Presidency and has said he expects to discuss the situation in Afghanistan during his engagements at the United Nations.
As India assumed the Presidency of the 15-nation Council for the month of August, it had outlined maritime security, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping as the focus areas.
Jaishankar will chair an open debate on August 18 on technology and peacekeeping under the overarching theme of 'Protecting the Protectors'.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti said in a tweet that Jaishankar will participate in a ceremony at the UN Peacekeeping memorial in the UN headquarters along with Guterres.
Jaishankar will also chair a high-level event on August 19 on counter-terrorism during which the Council will discuss the Secretary General's six-monthly report on the threat posed by ISIL/Da'esh, under the agenda item 'Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorist Acts'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired the virtual high-level open debate on maritime security that was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Blinken.