India today said that the exact number of its citizens remaining in war-torn Afghanistan was unknown. The Ministry of External Affairs believes it has evacuated most who wanted to return while some are still around.
“The numbers keep changing. 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,” Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said today during a press briefing on the situation in the war-torn country.
“We are monitoring the situation very carefully. It is an evolving situation.”
India has till now evacuated hundreds of people from that country since the abrupt takeover of the country’s governance by Taliban terrorists last week unleashed much fear and desperation, especially in capital Kabul.
The foreign ministry has put the number of people evacuated by India till now at over 550, of which 260 are Indians and the rest being Afghans and citizens of other nations.
“We were able to bring out some Afghan nationals as well as nationals from other countries. Of these, many of them were Sikhs and Hindus. Primarily, our focus will be on Indian nationals, but we’ll also stand by Afghans who stood by us,” Mr Bagchi said.
“The last flight had 40-odd people. We were hearing reports that Afghan nationals were facing difficulties in reaching 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.”
Referring to Afghan refugees keen in coming to India, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has announced six-month emergency e-visas, he said.
The ministry said India was in coordinating the evacuation with the US, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The Dushanbe airport in Tajikistan was being used for the purpose while Uzbekistan and Iran’s air space was opened up for India, the spokesperson said.