All Indian Embassy staff evacuated, crucial papers secured as IAF plane flies out of Kabul
An Indian Air Force plane plane took off from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday morning, carrying embassy workers and other important documents. A source told News18 that all Indian Embassy staff have been evacuated as chaos prevails in Afghanistan after Taliban took over the country.
“Flight carrying 130 people will land at Hindon Airport, 39 km away from Delhi," the source added. Another IAF heavy-lift transport aircraft that had left for Afghanistan late on Sunday night and reached that country using Iranian airspace returned from Kabul to India with a number of Indians, people familiar with the developments said. However, there was no official confirmation on it.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Monday said the situation in Afghanistan is being monitored on a constant basis at high levels and that suspension of commercial operations at Kabul airport has forced a pause in India’s repatriation efforts.
Capping its month-long rapid advances, the Taliban took positions in Kabul on Sunday evening hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left for an unknown destination, paving the way for the takeover of the capital as well as the country. “The security situation in Kabul has deteriorated significantly in the last few days. It is changing rapidly even as we speak. The Government of India has been closely monitoring all developments in Afghanistan," he said.
Bagchi was replying to media queries on the situation in Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban. “We are in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. We will facilitate repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan," the MEA spokesperson said.
The Taliban’s stunning military takeover has triggered panic in Kabul with thousands mobbing the airport in a desperate attempt to flee. Videos posted on social networks showed scenes of panic and fear in Kabul, including crowds running next to a US military transport plane as it taxies to take off, with some trying to desperately cling to its sides.
India along with many other countries was surprised at the lightning advances made by the Taliban across Afghanistan in capturing power after the US began pulling out its troops on May 1 from the country, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “Definitely, we did not expect Kabul to fall so soon," news agency PTI quoted an official on the condition of anonymity.
India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan and it has invested nearly USD 3 billion in carrying out nearly 500 projects across that country. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is largely seen as a setback for India as the militant outfit has been strongly backed by Pakistan’s military.