Home Global Village Indian engineers abducted in Afghanistan as New Delhi’s footprint in Afghanistan grows

Indian engineers abducted in Afghanistan as New Delhi’s footprint in Afghanistan grows

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Seven Indian engineers of an RPG group company working in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province were abducted on Sunday by Taliban gunmen who apparently mistook them for government employees, media reports said. The external affairs ministry said in New Delhi it is in touch with authorities in Afghanistan and is ascertaining the details of the incident.

The Taliban terrorists abducted the Indians, working for Maharashtra-based company KEC, and their Afghan driver early this morning in Bagh-e-Shamal area of the provincial capital Pul-e-Khomre, TOLOnews reported, citing officials.

According to the Associated Press, the seven Indian nationals were electrical engineers. The company employees were abducted while they were travelling to the area where KEC has a contract to operate an electricity sub-station, the Afghan news channel reported.

Afghanistan neighbor Pakistan has largely been suspicious of its archrival India in Afghanistan. It fears New Delhi will use its clout to transform Afghanistan into a second front for Pakistan.

Baghlan governor Abdulhai Nemati claimed that the Taliban group took the engineers hostage and moved them to the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Pul-e-Khumri city, according to the report. It quoted Nemati as saying that the Afghan authorities spoke with the Taliban via local people and the insurgent group said it had abducted them, believing they were government employees.

No group has, however, claimed responsibility for the abduction. Nemati said they are trying to get the abductees released through tribe elders and mediation. In response to queries, the external affairs ministry spokesperson said, “We are aware of the abduction of Indian nationals from Baghlan province in Afghanistan. We are in contact with the Afghan authorities and further details are being ascertained.”

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Harsh Goenka, the chairman of the RPG Enterprises, the parent company of KEC, said he has requested external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to help rescue its employees. “Request @SushmaSwaraj and Ministry of External Affairs to help rescue 7 of our managers from the kidnapping in Afghanistan.#KEC,” Goenka tweeted.

KEC, a global infrastructure engineering, procurement and construction major, is one of the largest Indian companies in Afghanistan. This development comes in the wake of an increased footprint in the occupied Asian nation. India and China are likely to identify projects in areas of health, education and food security that the two countries can jointly undertake in Afghanistan, following discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the recent Wuhan Summit.

The Taliban terrorists abducted the Indians, working for Maharashtra-based company KEC, and their Afghan driver early this morning in Bagh-e-Shamal area of the provincial capital Pul-e-Khomre, TOLOnews reported, citing officials.

The two sides may soon hold a standalone dialogue for identifying projects in Afghanistan according to media reports. They said the plan is to identify projects that would improve lives of Afghan citizens and pave the way for a joint Indo-Afghan connectivity project through Afghanistan connecting China with Iran in the future.

However, the proposed connectivity project is unlikely to be included in China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) owing to India’s strong reservations against the mega project that seeks to connect Asia’s biggest country with the rest of the continent, Africa and Europe. Meanwhile, India and USA have undertaken joint projects in Afghanistan and, last year, co-hosted an entrepreneurship meet there. India and Russia have also been involved in a dialogue over the situation in Afghanistan.

Read more: Pakistan is happier than India & Afghanistan

As decided in 2017 India will undertake 116 high impact community development projects in 31 provinces of Afghanistan. These investments will be in the areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydro power, sports and administrative infrastructure. The government has also decided that ongoing programmes for education, capacity building, skills and human resource development of Afghanistan, one of the largest such programmes in the in the world, will continue for a further period of five years from 2017 to 2022.

Baghlan governor Abdulhai Nemati claimed that the Taliban group took the engineers hostage and moved them to the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Pul-e-Khumri city, according to the report.

While the proposed joint projects will be the first such initiative by India and China in a third country in South Asia, the two sides have partnered for joint hydrocarbon projects in Sudan, Syria and Colombia.

Read more: IS in Afghanistan: An emerging threat in a volatile region

Afghanistan neighbor Pakistan has largely been suspicious of its archrival India in Afghanistan. It fears New Delhi will use its clout to transform Afghanistan into a second front for Pakistan. These fears have been largely confirmed with the actions of Indian backed Afghan-based terror groups such as the TTP and Jamaat ul Ahrar against Pakistan as well as the confession of captured Indian intelligence officer Kulbhusan Jadhav.


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