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Kabul advisory too late

After the Taliban kidnapped K. Suryanarayana, India's military attache in Kabul, Brig. S.K. Choudhury, mailed an advisory to all Indians registered with the embassy.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 03:00 IST

After the Taliban kidnapped K. Suryanarayana, India's military attaché in Kabul, Brig. S.K. Choudhury, mailed an advisory to all Indians registered with the embassy. It read: Travel in 'buddy pairs', always carry a mobile phone, walk facing oncoming traffic, entertain guests only on Fridays and holidays, and maintain a self-imposed curfew by 9 p.m.

A comprehensive list. But only the Indians in Afghanistan can tell you no warning is good enough — the fear of the Taliban nags them every moment. "My family has been weeping ever since they heard of the tragedy and now, they desperately want me back. We are trying our best to not panic but…," said an employee of the Power Grid Corporation of India. He is too scared to give his name.

He is one of the luckier ones. He works on an Indian government project and the Afghanistan police take care of his security. But private companies follow a different protocol.

Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rakesh Sood explains, "Private companies come here essentially to do business and make profit. And if you want to do business in this country, you have to factor in the cost of security."

So, did Suryanarayana's Bahrain-based company, Almoayed, provide him adequate security? "Of course, we did," says GM Manish Aggarwal, "It would have been impossible for us to do business in this country for over three years if we hadn't provided adequate security. It is clear Suryanarayana did not follow his security schedule."

Aggarwal says there are many more Indians working in Afghanistan than the embassy estimates. He believes there are at least 7,000 to 8,000 Indians in Afghanistan as opposed to the official figure of 2,000. "People don't register with the embassy because they don't get any benefits from them," he says. But the embassy believes it is imperative for Indians to register with them.

First Published: May 05, 2006 03:00 IST