Over 200 Indians including Foreign Ministry staff and paramilitary soldiers tasked for their protection are yet to be evacuated from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, sources have told NDTV.
An Indian aircraft is parked at the chaotic Kabul airport, sources said, adding the big concern is how to safely bring the staff from the Indian mission compound to the airport. The Taliban has enforced a curfew in the city, they said.
The Indians stranded in Kabul include some 100 personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police or ITBP, tasked with protecting the Indian mission in Afghanistan.
The Afghan airspace has been closed to commercial flights after thousands of desperate people overran the tarmac this morning in the hope of getting out of the war-torn country, a day after the Taliban took control of the city. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has already left the country.
The Cabinet Secretary is meeting with Foreign Ministry officials to work out the evacuation plan, which is already in place, in detail, sources said.
Questions are being raised on why the Indian mission staff were not evacuated in the last three-four days when the situation on the ground was changing fast, sources have said. The missions of other nations in the war-torn country had been thinning out when Taliban started taking city after city before encircling Kabul and entering the city on Sunday.
With Afghanistan’s airspace closed, Air India flights coming from the US are likely to be re-routed, sources said. Flights AI-126 (Chicago-New Delhi) and AI-174 (San Francisco-New Delhi) will have to re-routed to a Gulf nation to refuel, they said, adding Air India is also working on new routes for flights that will depart later from India to the US.
The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority asked all transit aircraft to reroute, adding any transit through Kabul airspace would be uncontrolled, news agency Reuters reported. Kabul’s flight information region covers all of Afghanistan.
Five people were killed at Kabul airport today, but it’s unclear whether they died in firing or stampede, Reuters reported.