Two infants were among 168 people, including 107 Indian citizens and two Afghan senators, evacuated from Kabul on a special Air Force flight this morning.
The plane landed safely at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad near Delhi.
Visuals shared by news agency ANI showed one of the infants in the arms of the mother, while a young girl (presumably the older sister) smiles happily and kisses the baby, who seems rather bewildered by the many new sights and sounds.
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2021
In the video a woman can also be heard speaking about the emotional and physical stress of the past seven days – since the Taliban walked into Kabul and took effective control of Afghanistan, triggering panic as locals and foreign nationals rushed to the airport to flee the war-torn country.
Photographs showed the second infant also in the mother’s arms, with the father standing by her side, as the young family waits to be processed and administered a (mandatory) RT-PCR test.
An Afghan woman who was on the Air Force flight told ANI the situation in her country is “deteriorating”, and that the Taliban had burned down her house.
“Situation was deteriorating in Afghanistan, so I came here with my daughter and two grandchildren. Our Indian brothers and sisters came to our rescue. They (the Taliban) burnt down my house. I thank India for helping us,” the unnamed woman said.
A few hours before the Air Force flight landed, three others – operated by Air India, IndiGo and Vistara – carrying evacuees from Afghanistan touched down at the national capital.
The flights were bringing back people evacuated from Kabul earlier this week and flown first to Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Doha in Qatar, due to safety concerns over flight routes out of Afghanistan.
India has been allowed to operate two flights per day from Kabul to evacuate its citizens and those of other countries stranded in Afghanistan, ANI has said, quoting government sources.
Several of the 168 people flown back by the Air Force today were among 150 picked up by the Taliban yesterday, during a chaotic few hours that began with local reports that Indians had been abducted.
Government sources later clarified the group had been taken for routine questioning and checking of travel documents ahead of their evacuation.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar this week said the government is “very carefully” monitoring the situation in Kabul and Afghanistan, but that the immediate focus is on safely evacuating all citizens.
Asked how India plans to deal with Taliban leadership, he said it is “early days”, and did not comment if the government is touch with the group.
With input from ANI