New Delhi: India evacuated the Indian ambassador and staff from the Kabul embassy, ââtwo days after the Taliban entered the capital and settled as a new dispensation.
The closure of the Indian embassy has been in the works since it became clear that there would be no smooth transfer of power and that Taliban forces would enter the capital.
On Tuesday morning, the Foreign Ministry spokesman announced: âIn view of the current circumstances, it has been decided that our Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will travel to India immediately.
In view of the current circumstances, it was decided that our Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff would visit India immediately.
– Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 17, 2021
His announcement only came after the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster took off for a few hours after leaving Kabul airport around 7:30 a.m.
The flight included 30 diplomats, including Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon, 99 ITBP staff and 21 civilians, PTI reported.
This flight experienced a period of tension as a previous group was apparently turned away from the airport by Taliban forces on Monday and was allowed to board their flights after negotiations, according to The Hindu.
After a stopover at Jamnagar Air Base, the flight reached Hindon in Ghaziabad around 5:30 p.m. this evening.
A day earlier, another C-17 Globemaster had bought the first batch of Indian personnel in India.
India had closed the embassy during the civil war between Mujahedin factions, when it repeatedly came under cross fire from rockets.
In May 1995, India reopened the embassy, ââbut left Kabul just a day before the Taliban entered the city in September 1996. India then reopened the embassy in 2001 after the US invasion. from Afghanistan.
Officials say several Indian nationals stranded in Kabul are still awaiting repatriation. They will have to wait for the resumption of commercial flights that were suspended at Hamid Karzai International Airport after Afghan security officers left their posts and Afghan citizens poured onto the tarmac, desperately seeking to leave the country.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar earlier tweeted that he raised the urgent need to restore Kabul airport operations with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The Indian minister is in the United States to chair two events at the UN Security Council.
Discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan with @SecBlinken. Stressed the urgency of restoring the operations of the Kabul airport. We deeply appreciate the ongoing US efforts in this regard.
– Dr S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 16, 2021
Later Tuesday he declared that the trip of the Indian Ambassador and the Embassy had been a complicated exercise and thanked all those “whose cooperation and facilitation made it possible â.
The MEA spokesman said on Tuesday that India would facilitate the repatriation of Hindus and Afghan Sikhs. A day later, the MEA said it had already received requests from leaders of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities and was in contact with them.
According to Indian express, Taliban representatives met with Hindu and Sikh leaders and assured them of their safety and security.
Kabul gurudwara chief says Gurnam Singh Express that about 300 Hindus and Sikhs had taken refuge in the temple.
âBut a meeting was held today attended by representatives of the Taliban and members of the Sikh community. The Taliban leaders ensured our security and our peace. They said that we did not need to flee our country and that we could continue to live here in peace. They promised that we can practice our faith and that there will be no interference with our religious practices. They also gave a number that we can contact if there is a problem, âsaid Gurnam Singh.
Meanwhile, India’s Interior Ministry announced a new category of electronic visa for Afghan citizens due to the situation in the war-torn country.
MHA is reviewing visa arrangements in light of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new electronic visa category called âe-Emergency X-Misc Visaâ has been introduced to speed up visa applications for entry into India.@HMOIndia @PIB_India @DDNewslive @airnewsalerts
– Spokesperson, Ministry of the Interior (@PIBHomeAffairs) August 17, 2021
“For Afghan nationals, our visa services will continue through an electronic emergency visa scheme, which has been extended to Afghan nationals. You can access it through our e-visa portal at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/Registration“said a press release from the MEA.
This new category applies to all Afghan citizens, regardless of their religion. All applications will be reviewed and a security screening will be performed to verify background. An initial six-month visa will be granted to successful applicants.
In addition, there are still more than a thousand Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan, who cannot return because commercial flights have been stopped.
âThe main challenge for travel to and from Afghanistan is the operational status of the Kabul airport. This has been discussed at a high level with our partners, including by EAM with the US Secretary of State. The Indian government is committed to ensuring the safe return of all Indian nationals and will put in place flight arrangements once the Kabul airport is opened for commercial operations, âthe press briefing said. MEA.
After an increase in the number of US troops, Kabul airport resumed evacuation operations, but commercial flights had yet to be rescheduled.
If commercial flights do not resume, the government is also considering taking special charter flights to Kabul.
During this time, 21 Indians who were employed at the French Embassy were evacuated to Paris.
The ministry said the immediate priority was to obtain “accurate information” on the number of Indian nationals in Afghanistan. They had all been asked to urgently register with the new MEA agency Afghanistan Special Unit.
Note: This article, first published at 11:34 a.m. on August 17, 2021, has been updated with developments and republished at 12:20 a.m. on August 18, 2021.