A special Indian Air Force (IAF) repatriation flight carrying 168 passengers including 107 Indians from Kabul landed at the Hindon air base near Delhi on Sunday morning. The passengers included two Afghan senators and 24 Afghan Sikhs, reports said.
Most of the evacuees had taken shelter at a Gurudwara in Kabul. Reports said they will be moved to the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara next.
One of the evacuees, Narender Singh Khalsa, a senator in the former Afghanistan government, broke down after facing the cameras at the airport.
“I feel like crying…Everything that was built in the last 20 years is now finished. It’s zero now,” he told reporters.
Earlier in the day, two other flights carrying Indian nationals landed in New Delhi. The embassy spokesperson posted a video clip where the returnees were seen chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
Jubilant evacuees on their journey home ! pic.twitter.com/3sfvSaEVK7
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 21, 2021
Eighty-seven Indians, who were taken to Tajikistan capital Dushanbe from Kabul on board a military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, landed in New Delhi on a special Air India flight from the central Asian city early Sunday morning.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted that two Nepalese citizens also landed.
He said the passengers were earlier evacuated from Kabul by an IAF aircraft. It is learnt that the Indians evacuated to Doha from Kabul were employees of a number of foreign companies that were operating in Afghanistan. The Indians were flown to Doha by US and NATO aircraft.
India has already evacuated 200 people, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.
The first evacuation flight brought back over 40 people, mostly staffers at the Indian embassy, on Monday. The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians from Kabul on Tuesday.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities including Kabul in the backdrop of the withdrawal of the US forces.
The mission to evacuate close to 200 Indians was accomplished with support from the US.
Following the evacuation, the MEA said the focus now would be to ensure the safe return of all Indian nationals from the Afghan capital.
IAF special repatriation flight with 168 passengers onboard, including 107 Indian nationals, is on its way to Delhi from Kabul. pic.twitter.com/ysACxClVdX
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 22, 2021
The MEA said the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan.
It also requested the Indians as well as their employers to urgently share the relevant details with the special Afghanistan cell.
As per a rough estimate earlier, the number of Indians stranded in Afghanistan could be around 1,000 and India has been looking at ways to evacuate them including by coordinating with the US and other friendly countries.