New Delhi: The last Air India flight AI-244 from Kabul with a full load of 129 passengers arrived in New Delhi on Sunday evening, as the Afghanistan capital got surrounded by Taliban troops. According to the latest inputs, security and boarding processes of the final Air India flight are underway at Kabul airport. The commercial international flight comes ahead of India’s contingency plan to evacuate hundreds of its officials and citizens from Afghanistan.Also Read - Breaking: 2 Dead, Over 20 Injured in Fresh Blasts In Afghanistan's Jalalabad, Confirms Taliban Official
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State-run airline Air India usually operates international flights to Kabul three times a week. However, with the growing uncertainty about the Afghanistan government as the Taliban fighters tighten grip over the nation, operating commercial flights have become challenging. Also Read - Taliban Say Afghan Boys' Schools To Reopen, No Mention Of Girls; UNICEF Expresses Concern
India’s Contingency Plan as Taliban Enters Kabul
People familiar with the development said the government will not put the lives of its staffers at the Indian embassy and Indian citizens in Kabul at any risk and plans have already been finalised in case they require emergency evacuation.
“The government is closely monitoring the fast-paced developments in Afghanistan. We will not put the lives of our staff at the Indian embassy in Kabul at any risk,” an official told PTI.
Although there is no update on the evacuation procedure of Indian staffers and citizens in Kabul, officials said that decisions will depend on the ground situation.
It is also learnt that a fleet of the C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force is kept on standby to undertake evacuation missions. Meanwhile, a charter flight to Kabul was cancelled today.
Afghanistan Crisis And Where it Stands
According to local reports from Kabul, Taliban fighters entered “from all sides” into the city, triggering panic and fear among the residents.
Over the last few days, the Taliban have swept through almost all parts of Afghanistan, seizing control of around 25 of the 34 provincial capitals, including cities like Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad. Earlier today, Afghan forces surrendered Bagram airbase to the Taliban, which is home to prison housing 5,000 inmates.
Several other countries such as the United States and other embassies have begun evacuating their staff from the Afghan city.
The Afghan Presidential Palace said on Twitter that the situation is under control in Kabul and it has not been attacked, though there were instances of sporadic gunshots.
“Kabul has not been attacked. The country’s security and defence forces are working together with international partners to ensure the security of the city and the situation is under control,” the statement in Pashto said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had a telephone conversation with security officials regarding the security of the citizens in Kabul. He also urged government forces to maintain law and order in the city.
At the same time, the country’s acting interior minister said that a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government is being prepared, BBC reported.