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India allowed to operate two flights daily to evacuate citizens from Kabul; Jaishankar reaches out to German counterpart

More than 300 Indian nationals have to be taken out of Kabul which is now under the Taliban's control. India is airlifting its citizens through Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Qatar.

Published: 21st August 2021 09:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2021 10:56 PM   |  A+A-

Soldiers, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, arrive to provide security in support of Operation Allies Refuge at Hamid Karzai International Airport. (Photo | AP)

By ANI

NEW DELHI: India has been allowed to operate two flights per day from Kabul to evacuate its nationals stranded in Afghanistan, government sources told ANI.

The permission has been granted by the American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces which have been controlling operations of the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban on August 15.

Two Indian aircraft would be permitted to operate from the Kabul airport which is under the control of American security forces, government sources told ANI.

A total of 25 flights are being operated by them as they, at present, focusing on evacuating their citizens, weaponry and equipment.

More than 300 Indian nationals have to be taken out of Kabul which is now under the Taliban's control. India is airlifting its citizens through Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Qatar.

A flight of Air India is expected to land in India shortly with around 90 passengers. The Indian passengers were apparently taken out from Kabul in a C130J aircraft.

The first aircraft of India was allowed to operate from Kabul after National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval interacted with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan to facilitate the movement of Indian officials inside the American security zone at the airport.

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The Indian Air Force has already evacuated around 180 passengers including its ambassador to Afghanistan and all other diplomats.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and instructed all concerned officials to undertake all necessary measures to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the MEA has said the government is committed to the safe return of all Indian nationals from Afghanistan. The MEA said that the main challenge for travel to and from Afghanistan is the operational status of the Kabul airport.

Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday and took control of the presidential palace. The Indian government has been closely monitoring all developments in Afghanistan.

A group of Indian nationals is learnt to have been stopped and taken to an unknown location near the Kabul airport on Saturday for questioning and verification of travel documents, triggering some confusion and concerns in India.

These Indians were learnt to have been released subsequently.

People tracking the developments in Kabul said there were no specific reports of any harm to Indians in Kabul so far.

The Indians were among 150 people who were heading towards the Kabul airport when they were stopped by Taliban fighters, according to Afghan media reports.

Kabul Now news portal initially reported that the group was "abducted" by the Taliban fighters but it later updated the report saying all the people were released and on their way back to the Kabul airport.

The people cited above said the Indians were taken away for questioning and it is not unusual under the current circumstances.

There was no immediate official comment or reaction on the matter.

Meanwhile, India on Saturday evacuated around 80 Indian nationals from Kabul by a transport military aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The aircraft landed at Dushanbe in Tajikistan after evacuating the Indians from Kabul, they said, adding it is expected to arrive at Hindon airbase near Delhi in the evening.

India has already evacuated 200 people including the ambassador and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.

The first evacuation flight brought back over 40 people, mostly staffers at the Indian embassy, on Monday.

The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians from Kabul on Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday spoke to his German counterpart Heiko Maas on the latest developments in Afghanistan and challenges relating to emergency evacuation from Kabul.

"Appreciate the call from Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas of Germany. Discussed the evacuation challenges in Afghanistan and the policy implications of the changes there," Jaishankar tweeted.

India has been in touch with the US, the UK and a number of other leading powers on the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan after Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday evening.

Several countries including India have been facing difficulties in evacuating people from Kabul in view of chaos around the airport in the Afghan capital following the Taliban takeover.

India on Saturday evacuated around 80 Indian nationals from Kabul by a transport military aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

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The aircraft landed at Dushanbe in Tajikistan after evacuating the Indians from Kabul.

By Tuesday, India had evacuated 200 people, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul, in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF.

The first evacuation flight brought back over 40 people, mostly staffers at the Indian embassy, on Monday.

The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians from Kabul on Tuesday.

Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai meet Taliban acting Kabul governor, US-allied Afghan force personnel being hunted

Abdullah Abdullah, a senior leader of the ousted Afghan government, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met 'so-called' acting Taliban governor of Kabul, Abdul Rahman Mansour, on Saturday. They discussed the priority of protecting the lives, property and dignity of Kabul citizens.

Abdullah told the Taliban's acting Kabul governor that "In order to return to normality in the capital Kabul, it is imperative that citizens...feel safe and secure," according to a statement by Abdullah Abdullah's office.

The acting governor pledged to "do everything possible for the security of the people of Kabul," Abdullah's office said.

Afghanistan is witnessing its worst-ever crisis in decades as the Taliban's control has forced people to flee the nation in afraid of their atrocities. The country has been marred by violence for several years and the Taliban's takeover of Kabul has exacerbated the crisis.

Afghans have flocked to the Kabul airport in order to flee the Taliban. Terrorists on the streets of Kabul are reportedly preventing people from entering the airport using force.

Several reports of Taliban violence have emerged in recent days. This comes despite the Taliban have claimed they have reformed and vowed to respect the rights of women and minorities.

The Taliban have been attempting to convince the world that they will sever ties with terror groups like al-Qaeda after they are back in power in Afghanistan after 20 years and needs the world's recognition and approbation, a media report said.

ALSO READ | IAF flight evacuates over 85 Indians from Kabul amid Taliban crisis

The Taliban's long history of association with terror groups and their family-based relations with terrorists of other groups have raised severe questions about the Taliban's commitment during the Doha agreement that they would not provide safe heavens to any terrorist in Afghanistan.

While thousands of Afghan security force members have managed to flee from Afghanistan to other countries such as Iran and Uzbekistan as the Taliban seized the country but tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers and commandos are still on the run and being hunted by the terror group.

Matthew Rosenberg writing in The New York Times said that over the past few weeks columns of Afghan soldiers in armoured vehicles and pickup trucks sped through the desert to reach Iran and military pilots flew low and fast to the safety of Uzbekistan's mountains.

"Others managed to negotiate surrenders and went back to their homes -- and some kept their weapons and joined the winning side," he said further in the NYT.

Tens of thousands of other Afghan soldiers, commandos and spies have been left behind. They are now on the run, hiding and hunted by the Taliban, he wrote .

"There's no way out," the media outlet reported qouting Farid, an Afghan commando. He added that he was hiding in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, trapped after the regular army units surrendered around him. "I am praying to be saved."

Reports said that Taliban have been searching for people who they believe worked with and fought alongside United States and NATO forces.

The New York Times reported that said that there is no such data that how many Afghan soldiers and security officials are on the run. Dozens of Afghan pilots escaped to Uzbekistan, where 22 planes and 24 helicopters carrying nearly 600 men arrived on Sunday, according to Uzbek officials; an unknown number made it to Iran, former Afghan officials said.

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A number of former government officials have disappeared in the country including a provincial Governor and police personnel, Tolo News reported citing the families of missing officials.

On contrary, Taliban spokesman had informed that the group has forgiven people who had worked in the military or civilian sector with the previous government.

Efforts are being made to maintain stability in Afghanistan. However, people are rushing to the airport to flee the nation as they are afraid of the terror group's brutal atrocities in the nation.

Countries from all across the world have been evacuating their citizens fastly as Afghanistan's future is hanging in balance. The US State Department on Thursday said that it has airlifted more than 7,000 evacuees since Saturday.

The Taliban leaders are discussing future government plans in Afghanistan and are in touch with intra-Afghan parties.

(-With PTI Inputs)



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