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New Delhi, Aug. 17 (PTI) In a “difficult and complicated exercise”, India on Tuesday completed the evacuation of all staff from its embassy, ââa move that ended the country’s diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, so even as the government announced an emergency electronic visa facility for Afghans wishing to come to the country.
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a Cabinet committee meeting, which was attended by senior ministers – Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman – and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Minister of Business Foreign Minister Harsh Shringla and Indian envoy to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon take stock of the situation in that country after the Taliban seized power on Sunday.
During the meeting, Modi called on officials to ensure the safe evacuation of all Indian nationals from Afghanistan and to provide refuge for Sikh and Hindu minorities who wish to come to India from there, in addition to provide all possible assistance to Afghan citizens seeking assistance, according to government sources. .
Announcing the completion of the evacuation process for diplomatic mission staff, MEA said: âIn view of the situation in Kabul, it has been decided that our Embassy staff will be immediately transferred to India. This movement ended in two phases and the Ambassador and all other staff members based in India arrived in New Delhi this afternoon. ”
He also said the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information on all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan.
The MEA statement came shortly after an Indian Air Force military transport plane brought back from Kabul around 150 people, including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and Indians. blocked. Another flight evacuated around 40 staff from Kabul on Monday.
This is the second time that India has evacuated all its staff from the embassy in Kabul after a similar exercise carried out in 1996 when the Taliban first seized power.
After arriving from Afghanistan, Indian Ambassador Tandon told media in Jamnagar that the situation in Kabul is now complex and “fairly fluid”, and that the Indians remaining stuck in the city will be returned home when flight services sales will resume.
“Glad to be back home safe and sound. We are a very big mission. We are a mission of 192 personnel who were evacuated from Afghanistan literally within three days in a very orderly manner in two. phases, âhe said. thanked the Indian Air Force for the evacuation flights.
Tandon, who assumed the duties of Indian ambassador to Afghanistan in August last year, said the embassy provided assistance and even shelter to many Indians in distress as a result of the rapid development of the situation in Kabul.
The ministry said India’s visa services will continue through an electronic emergency visa service, which has been extended to Afghan nationals.
Earlier, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: âMHA is reviewing visa arrangements in light of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new electronic visa category called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” has been introduced to speed up India visa applications. ”
All Afghans, regardless of their religion, can apply for the “e-Emergency X-Misc visa” online and applications will be processed in New Delhi, officials said.
“We have already received requests from leaders of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities and are in contact with them,” MEA said.
The ministry also called on the Indians and their employers to urgently share relevant details with the MEA Afghanistan special cell which was set up to coordinate the evacuation.
âThe main challenge for travel to and from Afghanistan is the operational status of the Kabul airport. This has been discussed at high level with our partners, including by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State. “said the MEA.
The ministry also said the government is committed to ensuring the safe return of all Indian nationals and will put in place flight arrangements once Kabul airport is opened for commercial operations.
Tweeting about the evacuation of Indian diplomats, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said that “moving the Indian Ambassador and Embassy staff from Kabul to India has been a difficult and complicated exercise. Thank you all. those whose cooperation and facilitation made this possible “.
Jaishankar, who is in New York for a four-day visit, also thanked his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian for evacuating 21 Indian nationals from Kabul to Paris.
“We discussed developments in Afghanistan with Foreign Minister @JY_LeDrian. We will continue to coordinate at the UN Security Council. Thank him for evacuating 21 Indian nationals from Kabul to Paris “, said the minister.
Earlier, Jaishankar also tweeted about his discussion with US Secretary of State Blinken on the latest developments in Afghanistan.
âDiscussed the latest developments in Afghanistan with @SecBlinken. Underlined the urgency of restoring Kabul airport operations. I deeply appreciate the ongoing US efforts in this regard,â he tweeted
As Jaishankar spoke to Blinken, NSA Ajit Doval had a conversation with President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday evening about the evacuation of Indian personnel, people familiar with the matter said.
It is learned that Jaishankar and Doval both participated in the smooth evacuation of around 190 Indian diplomats, officials and security personnel from the embassy in Kabul.
A contingent of 99 ITBP commandos as well as three sniffer dogs were also among the evacuees aboard the IAF’s C-17 Globemaster aircraft which landed at Hindon Air Base near the nation’s capital at around 5 p.m. after a brief stopover at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
This is the second evacuation flight as another C-17 plane returned around 40 people from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKI) on Monday as part of the emergency evacuation mission of India which was carried out following coordination with the competent authorities, in particular American officials are in charge of security at the airport in the Afghan capital.
ITBP commandos have also returned their weapons and belongings and will now undergo a one-week quarantine against COVID-19 at an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility in Delhi, they said.
“With this, our full contingent deployed to secure the embassy in Kabul, its four consulates in Afghanistan and its diplomats are back. The commandos have come along with embassy staff members as well as other Indian nationals,” ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
After landing in Hindon, ITBP contingent commander Ravi Kant Gautam said: “It was a difficult operation as we were evacuating our people to a country where there were no reinforcements,” adding: “The government Indian coordinated all the efforts very well and my commandos did it well on the ground. “
He said his men hadn’t slept for 3 or 4 days and that they would finally sleep well tonight. PTI MPB KR ACB NES
Disclaimer: – This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI