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Govt ‘committed’ to safe return of Indians in Afghanistan

New Delhi, August 17 (UNI): Even as diplomats and staffers of Indian Embassy in Kabul returned here, the government said on Tuesday it is committed to the safe return of all Indians from Afghanistan, and is also extending visa services to Afghan nationals.

The Ministry of External Affairs said it has already received requests from Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leaders and is in touch with them.

It said the main challenge for travel to and from Afghanistan is the operational status of Kabul airport, where commercial operations were suspended on Monday.

“This has been discussed at high levels with our partners, including by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken,” an MEA statement said.

The Government of India is committed to the safe return of all Indian nationals and will institute flight arrangements once Kabul airport is opened for commercial operations, it said.

Referring to the return to India of Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon earlier in the day, the statement said, “In view of the prevailing situation in Kabul, it was decided that our Embassy personnel would be immediately moved to India. This movement has been completed in two phases and the Ambassador and all other India-based personnel have reached New Delhi this afternoon.”

India has been issuing periodic travel and security advisories for all Indian nationals in Afghanistan, given the deteriorating security situation there, it said.

“Those already in Afghanistan were urged to return immediately while others were advised not to travel there. Nevertheless, we understand that a number of Indians are stranded in that country, some of whom are employed by third country organisations.

“Our immediate priority is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently in Afghanistan. They and /or their employers are requested to urgently share the relevant details with MEA’s Special Afghanistan Cell: Phone: +91-11-49016783, +91-11-49016784, +91-11-49016785, WhatsApp: +91 80106 11290, Email: situationRoom@mea.gov.in,” the statement said.

“As regards Afghan nationals, our visa services will continue through an e-Emergency visa facility, which has been extended to Afghan nationals. This can be accessed through our e-visa portal at https:ndianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/Registration,” it added.

On Sunday, the Taliban took over Kabul, while deposed president Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, plunging the country into chaos.

‘Safety of women, children’

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday called upon the international community to ensure the safety and dignity of women and children in Afghanistan.

Satyarthi, in a tweet said, “Every possible effort should be made to ensure the safety and dignity of children and women in Afghanistan. All concerned parties, in and outside Afghanistan, must prioritise the well-being and future of children in the process of stability and peace.”

There have been reports of the Taliban banning girls from attending schools.

IAF plane lands in Delhi

An Indian Air Force plane that evacuated Indian Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon and other staff of Indian Embassy in Kabul, landed in Delhi on Tuesday evening.

The C-17 Globemaster had taken off from Kabul on Tuesday morning with the evacuees, including ITBP personnel deployed for the protection of the embassy there.

Another C-17 aircraft of IAF with some evacuees had landed in Delhi on Monday morning. However, as the Taliban entered the high security area which houses the Indian Embassy, evacuation was slowed down on Monday.

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