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December 21, 2001
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Indian embassy in Kabul to open on Saturday

Dhananjay Mahapatra in Kabul

After remaining closed for five years and three months, the Indian embassy, a stone's throw from the powerful interior ministry, would be declared open on Saturday to formally establish diplomatic ties between India the new interim regime.

A new national flag, brought from India, will flutter from the freshly painted mast on Saturday.

Renovation work including the dismantling of the bunker, built in the pre-Taliban times with Satish Nambiar as the ambassador, to serve as a safe place from the rocket attacks, is on.

Officials have now decided to take out the container, which served as the bunker, from the pit.

"We will break the container and fill mud into it and make a garden," an official said.

A BSF jawan on deputation to Kabul embassy was killed in the rocket attacks necessitating the building of a bunker, though it was never used.

The embassy was closed on September 26, 1996, by the then Charge-de-Affairs Azad Singh Toor, barely 12 hours before the Taliban entered the capital. And he is back in Kabul actively overlooking the renovation work to make it functional.

"Not everything will be ready in the embassy by tomorrow. It will take at least two more weeks to make it completely functional," the official said.

Meanwhile, on the request of the Sikh community, the Indian embassy sent four doctors to the Gurudwara at Karte Parawan.

Around 50 families of Sikhs and Hindus stay in the Karte Parwan area on the outskirts of the capital city.

PTI

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