India allowed two flights daily to evacuate people from Kabul: Report
More than 300 Indian nationals have to be taken out of Kabul and the main challenge is the operational status of the Kabul airport.
India has been allowed by the US and NATO forces to operate two flights per day from Kabul to evacuate its nationals stranded in Afghanistan, government sources told news agency ANI. This will accelerate the evacuation process to which the government has reiterated its commitment. Countries are scrambling to evacuate their people after the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15. The Kabul airport which is being managed by the US and NATO forces has become a scene of disarray and chaos as the situation has taken an unexpected turn following the fall of Kabul.
Reports said more than 300 Indian nationals have to be taken out of Kabul. Air India operated one of the very first evacuation flights to Kabul on August 15, before the air space was closed. The flight had to hover in the skies for almost an hour as it could not land.
The Indian Air Force has already evacuated around 180 passengers, including its ambassador to Afghanistan and all other diplomats. The first aircraft of India was allowed to operate from Kabul after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval interacted with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan to facilitate the movement of Indian officials inside the American security zone at the airport, ANI reported
The external affairs ministry said the main challenge in evacuation is the operational status of the Kabul airport. A day after the Taliban captured Kabul, the airspace was closed disrupting the evacuation process.
But that did not deter India's evacuation process, Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Friday. "We operated flights to Kabul every day but after Afghanistan airspace's closure, Indian Air Force's C130 Hercules Globemaster aircraft flew to Kabul to bring back our citizens to the country. These flights are operating to bring back our people safely. Every day we are getting 130-150 Indians safely back to the country," he said.
"The Indian government will bring its citizens back to their homes from Afghanistan, as we did in the Vande Bharat Mission, through Air India and the Indian Air Force (IAF) planes, whichever way is possible. The evacuation process continued for three days. But, when a flight was about to take off on Sunday, NOTAM (a notice to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route) was received following gunshots fired at the Kabul airport," Scindia said earlier.
The European Union has said the situation at the Kabul airport is very difficult and EU delegation members are there at the airport trying to help constantly. “It is a very difficult situation, it is changing by the minutes, but there is intense work being done to make the best of a very difficult situation," an EU official said. A senior US military official has told Reuters on Saturday that there have been short durations during the last 24 hours where gates of Kabul airport have been closed.
The Taliban have claimed that they are not holding foreigners back and are aiming to improve the situation to provide a smooth exit at the airport over the weekend.
(With agency inputs)
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