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Threat to Indians in Afghanistan; security stepped up
Ajay Kaul in New Delhi | January 27, 2008 18:29 IST
In the wake of the recent terror attack on a convoy of Border Roads Organisation workers in Afghanistan, the security of Indians engaged in reconstruction work in the trouble-torn country is being beefed up.
The security measures are being intensified by the Afghan government after a fresh assessment suggested increased threat to the Indians, particularly those engaged in construction of a crucial highway from Delaram to Zaranj, sources said.
The assessment of the threat was carried out by a two-member team of senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry which went to Afghanistan. The team, led by Joint Secretary (Afghanistan) T C A Raghavan, was sent in the backdrop of a suicide attack on a BRO convoy in South West Afghanistan earlier this month, in which two Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans were killed and five injured.
The team held detailed discussions with the officials of Afghan Foreign and Internal Security Ministries and concluded that threat to Indian workers was high, the sources said.
The officials also went to Jalalabad, where the Indian Consulate and the Mission staffers are facing a high degree of threat from Taliban militants, the sources said.
The Consulate has come under attack in the recent times but all staffers are safe and no damage has been done to the heavily-fortified Mission, they said.
After a thorough review of the security, the team gave its report to the government. Subsequently, India asked the Afghan government to step up security measures for Indians and its Missions there, the sources said.
The Afghan government, despite facing severe manpower crunch, has assured that additional security personnel will be deployed to ensure safety of Indians there, the sources said.
This is the second time in over two years that India has sent a team to Afghanistan to assess security of its nationals there. The earlier one was in January 2006, after the abduction and killing of a BRO driver Maniappan Kutty, by the Taliban.
After that review, India had sent additional ITBP commandos to Afghanistan for security of the BRO workers. At present, about 380 ITBP personnel are providing security to the BRO workers and Indian Missions in Afghanistan, in addition to the local policemen.
Over a thousand Indians are engaged in reconstruction and developmental works in Afghanistan for the last six years, as part of New Delhi's commitment to help in rehabilitation of the war-torn country.
Of them, over 300 personnel of the Border Roads Organisation are engaged in construction of the Delaram-Zaranj highway, which will provide a shorter connectivity between Kabul and Iran.