India repatriates most of its citizens from Afghanistan

India repatriates most of its citizens from Afghanistan; in talks on resumption of evacuation flights

The ones still left in Afghanistan included nearly 20, who could not reach the airport to board the aircraft that left for India

Representative Image. Credit: AP/PTI File Photo

India has not yet operated any evacuation flight from Afghanistan after two explosions near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital of the war-torn country killed at least 110 people on Thursday.

Though India could evacuate most of its citizens willing to leave Afghanistan, some were still left in the country, where the Taliban’s swift blitz led to the collapse of President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul.

The ones still left in Afghanistan included nearly 20, who could not reach the airport to board the aircraft that left for India nearly 12 hours before the twin explosions near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul paused evacuation by all foreign nations.

 

“Our overall assessment is that the vast majority of Indians, who wish to return have been evacuated. Some more are likely to be in Afghanistan,” Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists in New Delhi on Friday.

“We are monitoring the situation very carefully. It is an evolving situation.”

Also read: UN Security Council condemns Kabul attack as 'especially abhorrent'

An Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft on Thursday brought home 24 Indian citizens evacuated from Afghanistan. It also evacuated 11 Nepalese and brought them to India. It was the last evacuation flight New Delhi operated from Kabul before the explosions took place near the Baron Hotel and near the overcrowded Abbey Gate of the airport in the capital of Afghanistan.

Bagchi, however, did not rule out the possibility of India operating more flights to bring back its citizens from Afghanistan.

“We are aware of the very difficult situation on the ground,” said the MEA spokesperson, adding that New Delhi was in touch with “various parties” to assess when it could send aircraft to Kabul to bring back home remaining Indians.

The United States and some other foreign nations resumed operating evacuation flights from the airport in Kabul on Friday.

Also read: Why India should engage the Taliban

Bagchi said that India would continue the prioritised evacuation of its own citizens from Afghanistan. “We were able to bring out some Afghan nationals as well as nationals from other countries. Of these, many of them were Sikhs and Hindus. Primarily, our focus will be on Indian nationals, but we'll also stand by Afghans who stood by us.”

Nearly 140 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus also could not reach the airport in Kabul on Wednesday and missed their flight to India.

Also read: Islamist terrorists among evacuees leaving Kabul?

New Delhi evacuated its envoy to Kabul, Rudrendra Tandon, and 175 other officials posted in the Embassy of India in Kabul on August 17 – less than 48 hours after the Taliban militants entered the capital city after occupying many provincial capitals across Afghanistan and President Ashraf Ghani escaped from the country marking the collapse of his Government. India also evacuated 263 of its citizens from Afghanistan, apart from 112 Afghans, including Sikhs and Hindus, and 15 citizens of third countries. New Delhi also arranged the evacuation of its citizens by other nations.

New Delhi has been coordinating with the United States for operating the evacuation flights from the capital Afghanistan. The Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul has been under the control of the troops of the US and its NATO allies. India also coordinated with the governments of Tajikistan, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Iran for using their airports and airspace for securing transit and overflight permissions for its evacuation aircraft, which avoided the airspace of Pakistan.

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