‘Will sleep well tonight’: ITBP commander after Kabul contingent lands in Delhi
- The ITBP contingent commander Ravi Kant Gautam said that his men “didn’t sleep for the last three to four days” and that it was a “challenging operation” to complete the evacuation process in Afghanistan.
As India evacuated its embassy and all of its staff from Taliban-captured Afghanistan in IAF aircraft on Monday and Tuesday, a contingent of 99 commandos and three sniffer dogs of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) also landed at the Hindon IAF base in Delhi on the same day, officials said.
The commandos also brought back their personal weapons and belongings, and will now undergo a week-long coronavirus disease (Covid-19 quarantine at the ITBP facility in Delhi, the officials added.
The ITBP contingent commander Ravi Kant Gautam said that his men “didn’t sleep for the last three to four days” and that they will make for it now with “some good sleep tonight.”
“It was a challenging operation as we were evacuating our people in a country where there was no reinforcement,” he pointed out, adding that the Indian government coordinated all the efforts “very well” and that his men conducted the same “nicely on the ground.”
The commandos were transferred to the quarantine facility at the Hindon base on brown-coloured buses.
“With this, our complete contingent deployed for securing the Embassy in Kabul, its four consulates in Afghanistan and diplomats have returned. The commandos came along with the Embassy staffers along with other Indian nationals," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
The ITBP commandos and the sniffer dogs were among the nearly 200 diplomats, including Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon that India repatriated on the C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday. The aircraft made a brief halt at the Jamnagar base of Gujarat before landing in Delhi.
As many as four journalists were present among the 21 civilians.
An ITBP official told reporters in Jamnagar that the situation in Afghanistan was "very dangerous” to even be described.
This comes after officials said on Monday that an armed contingent of ITBP is "actively" securing the diplomatic staff of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan's capital Kabul and will be there "till required".
The ITBP was first deployed to secure the premises of the India embassy in Kabul, diplomats and staffers in November, 2002.
Meanwhile, Tandon on Monday, during a brief interaction with reporters, said that India is “continuously monitoring the situation” in Afghanistan and since there are still some Indian national stranded in the war-torn country, national carrier Air India will “continue to run its commercial services to Kabul as long as the airport in Kabul functions.”
Taliban took over Kabul on Sunday, and soon after former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country reportedly to Tajikistan. Several of his close aides also departed from the country while one of his advisors on public health affairs, R Ahmadzai, arrived in Delhi on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters after landing in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, Ahmadzai said, “There was a lot of anxiety and depression over the last one month, but now there is not much fighting [in Afghanistan]. People are at peace now.”
He added that the Taliban has promised to not be their old brutal self this time around, and assured more freedom to women and girls, including allowing them to work wearing a hijab.
(With inputs from agencies)