New Delhi: The Indian government has stepped up efforts not just to evacuate its own citizens from Afghanistan but also Afghans looking at New Delhi for support and safety in wake of the Taliban takeover.
The Ministry of External Affairs Saturday informed it is taking the help of the Indian Air Force and Air India’s civilian aircraft to evacuate people from Kabul.
However, the evacuation process, which comes after the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital Kabul last Sunday is fraught with multiple complications and coordination involving many countries.
This process not just involves the C-17 and the C-130J fleet of the Indian Air Force but also those of Air India.
Since commercial flights are not allowed at the Kabul airport, India has been using Tajikistan as another base for the evacuation process.
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted out pictures of one such evacuation effort in which the Indian government carried a two-part shuttle operation.
Bringing Indians home from Afghanistan!
AI 1956 carrying 87 Indians departs from Tajikistan for New Delhi. Two Nepalese nationals also evacuated.
Assisted and supported by our Embassy @IndEmbDushanbe.
More evacuation flights to follow. pic.twitter.com/YMCuJQ7595
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 21, 2021
The Air Force’s C-130J, meant for special operations, took off from Kabul with 87 Indians and two Nepalese to Tajikistan.
At Tajikistan, the evacuees were shifted to an already station Air India flight which brought them to India.
Another IAF special repatriation flight carrying 168 passengers, including 107 Indians, also landed at the IAF’s Hindon air base Sunday morning. Afghan nationals were also among those aboard the aircraft.
IAF special repatriation flight with 168 passengers onboard, including 107 Indian nationals, is on its way to Delhi from Kabul. pic.twitter.com/ysACxClVdX
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 22, 2021
Complexity of flying
Some people are being flown back from Kabul to India through IAF’s C-17 aircraft, which lands in Kabul, flies back via Iran to Jamnagar in Gujarat, and then lands at the Hindon air base near Delhi.
This long route is being taken because being a military aircraft can’t fly over Pakistan. Given the distance, it first lands in Jamnagar for refuelling before making its way to Hindon.
The C-130J, a smaller aircraft, is being used as an air bridge to Tajikistan.
Sources in the government said that the evacuation process needs coordination between several countries and multiple agencies.
This is primarily because the Kabul airport is under the operational control of the US forces which is coordinating all Air Traffic Control Operations.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had on 17 August tweeted that the government is “monitoring the situation in Kabul continuously”.
“Monitoring the situation in Kabul continuously. Understand the anxiety of those seeking to return to India. Airport operations are the main challenge. Discussions on with partners in that regard,” he wrote.