At least 150 Indians who had allegedly been taken by the Taliban earlier in the day have reportedly been released and are currently inside the Kabul airport. The Indian citizens are going to be airlifted out of Afghanistan, which was recently taken over by the Taliban after a week-long siege.
Among the 150 persons picked up by the Taliban, many were Sikh and Afghan Hindus, sources tell Outlook. The persons are reportedly safe at Kabul airport now.
The group of Indian nationals is learnt to have been stopped and taken to an unknown location near the Kabul airport on Saturday for questioning and verification of travel documents, triggering some confusion and concerns in India.
As per some reports, the Taliban had "abducted" over 150 people including Indians. The Taliban, however, have rejected the claim as per a tweet by a Kabul-based journalist working for The New York Times.
Earlier, some news outlets in Kabul claimed the Taliban had abducted over 150 people, including Indians. The Taliban rejected that claim; a tweet by Sharif Hassan, a Kabul-based reporter for The New York Times, quoted a spokesperson for the group.
Around 80 Indian nationals were evacuated on Saturday from Kabul by a transport military aircraft of the Indian Air Force amid a deteriorating security scenario in the Afghan capital, people familiar with the development said.
The aircraft landed at Dushanbe in Tajikistan after evacuating the Indians, they said, adding the flight is expected to arrive at the Hindon airbase near Delhi in the evening.
India has already evacuated 200 people, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul, in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.
The first evacuation flight brought back over 40 Indians on Monday.
The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians on Tuesday.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities, including Kabul, in the backdrop of the withdrawal of the US forces.
The mission to evacuate close to 200 Indians was accomplished with support from the US.
Following the evacuation, the MEA said the focus now would be to ensure the safe return of all Indian nationals from the Afghan capital.
The MEA said the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan.
It also requested the Indians as well as their employers to urgently share the relevant details with the special Afghanistan cell.
As per a rough estimate, the number of Indians stranded in Afghanistan could be around 400 and India has been looking at ways to evacuate them, including by coordinating with the US and other friendly countries.
(With inputs from PTI)