New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security this evening, to assess the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
The meeting was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
It is understood that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Afghanistan Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon—who was evacuated from Kabul this morning — were also present at the meeting.
NDTV quoted sources as informing that the Cabinet Committee on Security was briefed in detail on the current and evolving security and political situation in Afghanistan and the recent evacuations.
The Prime Minister asked the officials to undertake all necessary measures to ensure safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days.
According to a senior official privy to the proceedings, the Prime Minister said, “India must not only protect our citizens, but we must also provide refuge to those Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India, and we must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance”.
India has evacuated its staffers from the embassy in Kabul, which fell to Taliban on Sunday. The embassy personnel, including the Indo-Tibetan Border Police on security duty, have been flown back on two Air Force planes — the second one took off this morning, sources have said.
The Prime Minister has been constantly in touch with officials regarding the situation, sources said. He was taking stock of situation till late in the evening yesterday and was updated when the flight took off. He instructed that adequate arrangements be made to ensure providing food for all those who returned at Jamnagar.
The first transport aircraft left Kabul yesterday under challenging circumstances and amid chaos at the airport, where thousands of Afghans desperate to fly out of the country. The rest of the diplomatic and security contingent were unable to leave due to the curfew declared by Taliban.
More than 120 people, including Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon, left this morning — their departure suspected to have been helped by an overnight conversation between the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
“Movement of the Indian Ambassador and the Embassy staff from Kabul to India was a difficult and complicated exercise. Thank all those whose cooperation and facilitation made it possible,” Jaishankar later tweeted.
For India, the big challenge is seen to be the repatriation of Afghan nationals who have been of help during the occupation. The government has said that it would “stand by” the Afghans “who have been our partners in the promotion of our mutual developmental, educational and people to people endeavours”. It has also said Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan will be given priority for repatriation.
It was reported that more than 1,650 people have applied to return to India.
The Embassy is currently been run by the local staff, who are providing consular services, reports said.