140 Indians Fly Home From Kabul As Govt Embassy Closes

140 Indians Fly Home From Kabul As Govt Embassy Closes

140 Indians, including the last of the Indian embassy staff, Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel and four media persons took off from the Kabul airport on board a special military flight on Tuesday morning.

According to a report, the flight, a C-17 Globemaster, was one of the two military aircraft operated by the Indian Air Force for the purpose of bringing home all Indian personnel from the embassy.

Another C-17 flight had brought back about 40 diplomats and other personnel yesterday on August 16, after the others were turned back from driving to the airport by Taliban guards in Kabul city.

Indian diplomats, led by Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon, coordinated with the new militia now in control of the capital and other diplomatic missions to ensure that the convoy of 140 reached Kabul airport on August 16 night.

All Indians were boarded around 6 a.m after spending the night at the airport. According to the tracker data, both flights took a long and circuitous route avoiding Pakistani airspace and minimising travel through Afghan airspace, to fly over Iran and returned to India over the Arabian sea, and back over Gujarat, stated report from leading daily.

With the return of all diplomatic staff members, it means that the Indian diplomatic mission in Afghanistan is at least, temporarily, closed. The government will now have to decide on the nature of relations with the Taliban government in Kabul, once it is formally announced.

On August 16, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) 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", reported a leading daily.

"The Government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in one of his statements on Tuesday.

"Understand the anxiety of those seeking to return to India. Airport operations are the main challenge. Discussions on with partners in this regard," said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in a tweet.

Report also stated that talks on the government to be installed are still under way, as Taliban Deputy Leader Baradar is expected to meet with members of the "coordinating council" representing the previous Afghan leadership of former President Hamid Karzai and the peace talks chairman Abdullah Abdullah and Hizb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The council leaders on Monday issued statements indicating that they were "in touch with the Islamic Taliban movement" and had "positive discussions".

Diplomatic sources said further talks could also take place in Doha, where issues such as guaranteeing rights for all Afghans, including women and minorities, and some sort of political representation for Afghans were at the top of the agenda.

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