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Indian PM visits embassy attack victims’ relatives

Manmohan Singh made three visits to those Indians affected by the suicide attack on India's embassy in Kabul upon his return from Japan for the G8 summit, reports Amit Baruah.
By Amit Baruah | Hindustan Times, Kabul
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2008 01:59 AM IST

“Jayant, how are you? And, how are your staff members?” Ten minutes after he landed in Japan for the G8 summit on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on the phone talking to Jayant Prasad, India’s ambassador in Afghanistan, inquiring about the welfare of embassy staffers in Kabul.

Not only did the Prime Minister speak to Prasad, he made three visits to those Indians affected by the suicide attack on Thursday —upon his return from Japan for the G8 summit. In Noida, the PM went to meet Sujata Mehta, wife of Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta, India’s defence advisor in Kabul, and one of those killed in the blast.

And, in New Delhi, the Prime Minister went to the Kasturba Gandhi Marg hostel of the Ministry of External Affairs to condole the death of Counsellor V. Venkateswara Rao, with Rao’s spouse, Malathi.

In the third visit, the Prime Minister went to AIIMS and met with Om Prakash and Hari Singh of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, both of whom were injured in the attack.

In Monday’s phone conversation, Singh also told Prasad that a special aircraft with a medical team had been sent. “Please let me know directly if anything is needed. We are ready to provide it,” the Ambassador recalls the PM telling him.

“I am very interested in the welfare of all Indian Embassy staffers and all Indians living in Afghanistan. You have our best wishes and full support,” the PM, who called around 5 pm Kabul time, told the Ambassador.

Prasad is enthused by all the support he’s received after the blasts to keep India’s flag flying in this troubled Afghan capital. The PM’s words to him on Monday have come as inspiration.

Four days after the blasts, the Indian Embassy is trying hard to get back on its feet. “All my staffers are giving more than 100 per cent. And, I want to tell you something – they are all volunteers who chose to serve in Kabul – nobody was sent against their wishes,” Prasad told the HT.

Menwhile, preliminary investigations have found that nearly 80-100 kg of high-quality RDX was used in the suicide attack, Prasad said on Friday.

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