Amid clashes with the Taliban and escalating tensions in Afghanistan, India evacuated its embassy, including the Indian ambassador, on Tuesday, August 17. Earlier in the day, a special Indian Air Force aircraft landed in Jamnagar with 130 diplomats and around 20 Indians stranded in Afghanistan.
The last time India evacuated its mission in Kabul was years back when the Taliban came to power.
This announcement comes two days after the Taliban captured Kabul, and in turn, entire Afghanistan.
The IAF plane, a C-17 Globemaster, took off from Kabul and landed at Air Force Station in Jamnagar for refuelling. Officers had said that they would fly to Delhi in the afternoon.
“The aircraft landed at around 11:30 AM and we went to the tarmac to welcome the evacuees with garlands. They are being taken to a facility for lunch even as the aircraft is being refueled,” Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs, was quoted as saying.
“The passengers, who were tense, looked relieved after landing in Jamnagar. They have been taken to a facility within the Air Force Station for refreshment and once the aircraft is refueled, the evacuees will resume their journey onward to Delhi,” Sourabh Pardhi, district collector of Jamnagar said.
Another C-17 aircraft had evacuated around 40 people on Monday, August 16, including some Indian embassy staff from Kabul. Shortly after that, the operations at the city’s airport were suspended.
Meanwhile, India introduced a new category of e-visa for Afghan nationals. This visa would fast-track the Afghans’ entry into India. These visas will be granted after security clearance and valid only for six months, sources confirmed.
According to sources, the visa will allow Afghan nationals fleeing Afghanistan to stay in India for six months; however, there is still no clarity on what would happen after the expiry of the validity period. India does not have a refugee policy in place. The country only shelters foreigners facing persecution in their countries on a case-to-case basis.
“MHA reviews visa provisions in view of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new category of electronic visa called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” introduced to fast-track visa applications for entry into India,” a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday, August 17.