Updated: August 17, 2021 1:58:42 pm
Amid escalating tensions in Afghanistan, India Tuesday evacuated its entire embassy — including the Indian ambassador. A special Indian Air Force aircraft with 130 diplomats and around 20 Indians stranded in Afghanistan, landed in Jamnagar earlier in the day.
This is the second time since 1996 that India has evacuated its mission in Kabul — both times after the Taliban came to power.
The announcement came two days after the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan. Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday completing their takeover of the country in a lightning offensive that saw provinces and warlords give up without a fight, days after the hasty withdrawal of US troops.
The IAF plane which had taken off from Kabul landed at the Air Force Station in Jamnagar for refueling. Officers said the aircraft, a C-17 Globemaster, will fly to Delhi this afternoon.
“The aircraft landed at around 11:30 AM and we went to the tarmac to welcome the evacuees with garlands. They are being taken to a facility for lunch even as the aircraft is being refueled,” Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs told The Indian Express.
“The passengers, who were tense, looked relieved after landing in Jamnagar. They have been taken to a facility within the Air Force Station for refreshment and once the aircraft is refueled, the evacuees will resume their journey onward to Delhi,” Sourabh Pardhi, district collector of Jamnagar said.
This is the second evacuation flight. On Monday, another C-17 aircraft had evacuated around 40 people including some Indian embassy staff from Kabul before the operations at the airport in the city were suspended.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry Tuesday announced a new category of visa to fast-track the applications of Afghans who want to come to India in view of the prevailing situation in Afghanistan.
Thousands of Afghans rushed into Kabul’s main airport on Monday, some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. At least seven people died in the chaos, US officials said. The evacuation operation resumed this morning at Kabul airport.
On Monday, the MEA had said that it was monitoring the situation “on a constant basis at high levels” and is “in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities”. “The Government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan,” Bagchi said in a statement.
(With inputs from ENS, Gujarat)
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