Air India flight with 87 Indians from Kabul lands in Delhi, another enroute
A special Air India flight ferrying 87 Indians from Afghanistan’s Kabul landed in Delhi early on Sunday. The Indians were taken to Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe from Kabul on board a transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday. A C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) also took off from Kabul with another 168 people, including 107 Indians and some 20 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, onboard earlier on Sunday. Afghanistan lawmaker Narender Singh Khalsa is among the 23 Afghan Sikhs on the C-17 aircraft. It will land at the Hindon IAF base in Ghaziabad later in the day.
"Evacuation continues! IAF special repatriation flight with 168 passengers onboard, including 107 Indian nationals, is on its way to Delhi from Kabul," the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs (MEA), Arindam Bagchi, tweeted on Sunday.
Bagchi posted earlier that two Nepalese citizens are also coming to India on board the Air India flight from Kabul, which are overtaken by the Taliban last Sunday. "Bringing Indians home from Afghanistan! AI 1956 carrying 87 Indians departs from Tajikistan for New Delhi. Two Nepalese nationals also evacuated. Assisted and supported by our Embassy @IndEmbDushanbe. More evacuation flights to follow," he tweeted at around 1:20am.
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The MEA spokesperson said the passengers were earlier evacuated from Kabul by an IAF aircraft.
Separately, the Indian embassy in Qatar said 135 Indians, who were evacuated from Kabul to Doha in the last few days, are being sent to India. "1st batch of 135 Indians who were evacuated 4m Kabul to Doha over past days being repatriated tonight to India," the embassy said in a post-midnight tweet.
It said embassy officials provided consular and logistics assistance to ensure the safe return of the Indians. "We thank Qatar authorities n all concerned for making this possible," it added.
People familiar with the matter have said that Indians evacuated to Doha from Kabul were employees of a number of foreign companies that were operating in Afghanistan. The Indians were flown into Doha by US and Nato aircraft.
India has already evacuated 200 of its citizens, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul, in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on August 15. The first evacuation flight brought back more than 40 people, mostly staff at the Indian embassy, on Monday. The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people, including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel, journalists and some stranded Indians from Kabul on Tuesday.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities including Kabul in the backdrop of the withdrawal of the US forces.
After the initial evacuations, the MEA has said the focus now would be to ensure the safe return of all Indian nationals from the Afghan capital. It has also said that the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan. It also requested Indians as well as their employers to urgently share details with the special Afghanistan cell.