New Delhi, Aug 18: A contingent of 99 ITBP commandos along with three sniffer dogs landed at the Hindon IAF base on Tuesday onboard a military evacuation flight from Taliban-captured Afghanistan, officials said.
The commandos also brought back their personal weapons and belongings and will now undergo a week-long COVID-19 quarantine at a Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility in Delhi, they said.
"With this, our complete contingent deployed for securing the Embassy in Kabul, its four consulates in Afghanistan and diplomats have returned. The commandos came along with the Embassy staffers along with other Indian nationals," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
After landing at Hindon, ITBP contingent commander Ravi Kant Gautam said, "It was a challenging operation as we were evacuating our people in a country where there was no reinforcement," adding, "The government of India coordinated all the efforts very well and my commandos carried it out nicely on the ground."
He said his men have not had sleep for the last 3-4 days and they will finally have some good sleep tonight.
The commandos were taken away in brown-coloured ITBP buses from the Hindon airbase to the quarantine facility.
A senior officer said the commandos also carried along their personal AK series assault weapons, bullet-proof jackets, helmets, communication gadgets, ammunition and three sniffer dogs.
Thirty diplomats including Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon, 99 ITBP commandos and 21 civilians were onboard the C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) that took off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul this morning and made a halt at the Jamnagar airforce base before touching down at Hindon in Ghaziabad near here in the evening, he said.
There were four journalists among the 21 civilians, he said.
In Jamnagar, an ITBP official told reporters that the situation in Afghanistan was "very dangerous that cannot be described".
He said there were chances and threats of attack on the convoys, the Embassy premises or Indian diplomats but the ITBP "brought them to the airport safely".
The ITBP had deployed over 300 commandos for security duties in Afghanistan.
The force was first deployed to secure the premises of the Kabul Embassy, diplomats and staffers in November, 2002.
It later sent its additional detachments to similarly guard Indian consulates located in Jalalabad, Kandhar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat.
The detachments from the consulates have already been withdrawn after they were shut recently due to the current crisis in the country and also due to negligible footfall as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the globe.
The ITBP also was deployed to secure the Delaram-Zaranj road project that was executed by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) between 2005-08.
A number of ITBP commandos were also killed in various terrorist attacks that took place during these duties and many of them were decorated with gallantry medals.