NEW DELHI: India evacuated a total of 565 people, including 438 Indians, from Afghanistan under ‘Operation Devi Shakti’ in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Parliament was informed on Friday.
The government also informed Lok Sabha that a few Indians, who had contacted the special Afghanistan cell of the Ministry of External Affairs and desired to be evacuated, still remain stranded.
To a question on whether the government has been successful in evacuating all the internally displaced Indian citizens from Afghanistan, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said a total of 565 people, including 438 Indians, were evacuated from Afghanistan by the government of India under ‘Operation Devi Shakti’.
A few Indians, who had contacted the Special Afghanistan Cell of the Ministry of External Affairs and desired to be evacuated, still remain stranded, the minister said in his written reply.
The Special Afghanistan Cell is in touch with the remaining stranded Indians as well as members of the Afghan minority community, he said.
Following the rapid decline in the security situation in Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, all India-based personnel from the embassy and other consulates were recalled, Muraleedharan said.
To a separate question on whether the government had conducted flights from Afghanistan to India during the period of internal disturbances, Muraleedharan said the government of India operated several special Indian Air Force and Air India flights under ‘Operation Devi Shakti’ to evacuate stranded Indian and Afghan nationals from Afghanistan, from August 16 to 25, 2021.
In view of the rapid deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, especially after August 15, a 24×7 Special Afghanistan Cell was set up in the Ministry of External Affairs to facilitate repatriation and other requests from Afghanistan, Muraleedharan said.
In August alone, the Special Afghanistan Cell responded to 3,436 telephone calls, 9,581 Whatsapp messages and 4,569 emails, the minister said.
To another query on the number of Indian Sikhs who were evacuated from Afghanistan and the facilities or amenities being provided to them after their evacuation, Muraleedharan said 74 members of the minority community from Afghanistan, primarily Afghan Sikhs, were evacuated on board special Indian Air Force and Air India flights arranged by the government of India under ‘Operation Devi Shakti’.
He said the Indian Embassy and consulates in Afghanistan have always maintained regular contact with the members of Afghan Hindu-Sikh minority community which looked after the various Gurudwaras and Hindu temples in Afghanistan