New Delhi: The Taliban entered at least two of India’s consulates in Afghanistan on Wednesday, searched for documents, and took away parked cars, government sources said today, expressing worry that it meant the group is acting against the assurances its leaders have been giving to the world.
Members of the Taliban “ransacked” the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Herat, which are closed, according to the sources. They “searched closets” in Kandahar for papers and took away vehicles parked at both the consulates.
“We expected this. They ransacked the place searched documents and also took away our parked vehicles from both embassies,” a senior officer told NDTV.
Days before the raid, the Taliban had reached out to Delhi, saying that did not want India to evacuate diplomats from its Kabul embassy. Sources say the government had received messages from the group’s Qatar office assuring them of the safety of Indian staff and security personnel.
The messages – sent from the office of Abbas Stanikzai, the chief of the Taliban’s political unit – were routed via contacts in Kabul and Delhi.
Earlier this week, India carried out a difficult evacuation of its embassy staff in two Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft that flew out of Kabul. India’s ambassador to Afghanistan was also brought back as diplomats and civilians scrambled to get out of the country after the Taliban’s takeover. But over 1,000 Indian nationals are still stuck across Afghanistan.
After its breakneck takeover of the Afghan capital, the Taliban has been carrying out door-to-door searches in Kabul to identify Afghans who worked for the National Directorate of Security, the state-run intelligence agency.
India operated four consulates in the country, besides the embassy in Kabul. Apart from Kandahar and Herat, India also had a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, which was shut down days before the Taliban took control. The embassy in Kabul is not officially shut; it is operating with local help.
An intelligence document for the UN has revealed that the Taliban are going house-to-house searching for people who worked with the US and NATO forces, according to news agency AFP.
The “targeted searches” have raised fears that the group, which has launched a PR blitz and has claimed complete amnesty for rivals, does not intend to stick to its word.
New Delhi is also concerned about the support the group is getting from various terror organizations.
Government’s intelligence sources reveal the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has released a statement on the Taliban victory, “praising and congratulating the group on its emancipation in Afghanistan”. Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham in Syria also released an official statement in support of the Taliban. “The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) based in western China has also issued a statement congratulating the Taliban. Events are unfolding at a very high pace – we are keeping a watch,” a senior government source said.