Centre verifying information on kidnapping of ‘Indian national’ in Kabul

Official’s comment hints at indirect engagement with Taliban elements in the ‘sensitive’ case

September 16, 2021 09:56 pm | Updated September 17, 2021 02:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul's Old City on September 14, 2021.

Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul's Old City on September 14, 2021.

India has been told that the Afghan Hindu individual kidnapped in Kabul is an Indian national. Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday India is verifying all the information regarding the person.

“We are told he is an Indian national. We are in touch with all concerned. We have seen reports that local authorities are undertaking investigation in this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Mr. Bagchi.

The intelligence wing of the Taliban issued an order on Wednesday to investigate the case with the help of CCTV footage. Mr. Bagchi’s comment hinted at India indirectly engaging Taliban elements in Kabul for ensuring the safety of the kidnapped person identified as Bansri Lal Arrendeh. Mr. Bagchi termed the case ‘sensitive’.

India has not so far established ties with the Taliban but has declared intention to continue to carry out developmental work for the Afghan people. Mr. Arrendeh, a prominent pharmaceutical shop owner in Kabul, was kidnapped on Tuesday morning. It was learnt that negotiations are under way to free him.

Afghanistan is facing a breakdown in the medical sector following the Taliban takeover on August 15 as hospitals are fast running out of basic medicines. Mr. Arrendeh had stayed back in Kabul and was not among those Afghan Hindu or Sikh citizens who had requested evacuation to India and other countries.

The incident coincided with the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which will take place on Friday morning.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar reached Dushanbe for the meeting which will be addressed virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was one of the early arrivals for the meeting which is likely to focus on the unfolding humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

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