New Delhi: As the crisis in Afghanistan unfolds, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (August 18, 2021) held a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) where is was briefed on the current situation also the focus was on the evacuation of Indian nationals and vulnerable Afghans, especially the minorities.
As per senior officials, during the meeting PM Modi 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.”
During the meet, a detailed briefing was given to the Prime minister on the current security and political situation in Afghanistan, including the recent evacuation of Indian officials, members of the Indian media, and others.
The initial plan was to evacuate Indian officials was from Kabul from August 17 to 21 but this was preponed as Kabul fell as the Taliban entered the city.
The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Other than that, senior officials including Principal Secretary to PM Dr P K Mishra, NSA Ajit Doval, and Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba were also present. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Indian envoy to Kabul Rudrendra Tandon were also present. Important to note Tandon had arrived on Tuesday on the C17 flight from Kabul to Hindan via Jamnagar.
earlier, India opened emergency E visas for Afghans desirous of coming to India. A 24×7 Special Afghanistan Cell is functional to coordinate the repatriation and requests from Afghanistan. India aims to give visas to Afghan officials who worked for India, members of the civil society, and journalists.
Around 1650 Indian nationals have requested for repatriation. Before Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban on August 15, India had got 1500 requests from Indians who want to come back but since August 15, there are 150 requests.
India is looking to get services of foreign commercial airlines, including the likes of Qatar for evacuation of its nationals.
The Prime Minister instructed all officials concerned to undertake all necessary measures to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days, sources claimed.
Indian mission in Kabul had issued four security advisories asking Indians to leave the country and in the latest release by MEA it asked those already in Afghanistan to return immediately while others were advised not to travel there.