The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that a majority of Indians who were in Afghanistan and wished to be evacuated from the war-torn country have been brought back to India.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a press briefing this evening that there may be some more Indians in the Central Asian country who wish to be brought back to India, but the ministry does not have an exact number of those persons as of now.
“Our overall assessment is that the vast majority of Indians who wish to return have been evacuated. Some more are likely to be in Afghanistan. I don’t have the exact number for that,” Bagchi said.
The spokesperson informed that India has conducted six evacuation flights so far from Kabul (Afghanistan) and Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and brought back more than 550 people.
“Of these, over 260 were Indians. The Government of India also facilitated the evacuation of Indian nationals through other agencies. We were in touch with various countries, like the US and Tajikistan,” he stated.
India also evacuated some Afghan nationals as well as citizens of other countries and many of these were Sikhs and Hindus, Bagchi informed. However, he asserted that New Delhi was primarily focusing on evacuating Indian nationals but will also “stand by Afghans who stood by us”.
Afghanistan situation uncertain
During the briefing, when asked about India’s plan to recognise the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bagchi said we would be jumping the gun if we discuss this matter now.
“The situation on the ground is uncertain (in Afghanistan). The primary concern is the security and safety of the people. Currently, there is no clarity about any entity forming a government in Kabul. I think we are jumping the gun regarding recognition,” the MEA spokesperson stated.
“We continue to monitor the situation very carefully (in Afghanistan). This is an evolving situation,” he said further, adding: “We’ve been seeking a peaceful, prosperous, democratic Afghanistan. We are currently monitoring it closely. The current focus is on the security situation of Afghanistan evacuations and seeing how it unfolds. Other countries are in the frame of wait and watch.”
When asked about the Taliban refusing to allow over 100 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to travel to India, Bagchi said the government was aware of the reports.
“The last flight had 40 odd people. We were hearing reports that Afghan nationals were facing difficulties in reaching the airport. We know some Afghan nationals, including Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, couldn’t reach the airport on August 25. Our flight had to come without them,” he informed.
India’s policy on Afghan refugees
To a question regarding India’s policy on Afghan refugees, Bagchi said the Afghans coming to India currently have six-month visa validity under the e-emergency visas that have been announced by the Home Ministry. “We will take it from there,” he added.
Bagchi also responded to a question on raids at an outsourcing agency handling visa operations in Afghanistan and said the government was aware of the matter.
“Once the security situation deteriorated (in Afghanistan), there were reports of a group of people who raided one of our outsourcing agencies where Afghan passports with Indian visas were there. Our authorities were in a state of high alert,” he said.
Commenting on the matter of an Afghanistan diplomat being deported from the Delhi airport, the spokesperson said the incident happened due to confusion.
“We were moving to the e-Emergency visa system. It appears that all this could have led to some confusion which led to the unfortunate incident of denial of entry to a particular Afghan national,” he stated.
“The foreign secretary will be attending events relating to the wrap-up session of our UNSC presidency, including the UNSC Open Briefing on the Middle East. After his engagements in New York, he will visit Washington DC for bilateral consultations,” the MEA official said with regard to India’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the month of August.