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‘We fear for our families back home’

What remains: An Afghan national narrating his plight, in New Delhi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Safely seated in a packed Kam Air flight that left Kabul at 11.45 a.m. on Sunday, a 27-year-old man from Afghanistan was overcome not only with a feeling of relief as he had managed to flee his country in the nick of time but also with fear as he wondered what would happen to his family that he was leaving behind.

Behind the counter of a medical store in the bylanes of Lajpat Nagar here 24 hours later, the man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the scene at the airport in Kabul was one of chaos and desperation as thousands tried to leave the country. “I had a business visa for India and my father is a political figure who could use his influence to get me out. I was lucky to be able to board the flight. At the airport, people were trying to use medical visas and any other documents they had to try and fly out before the city fell into the hands of the Taliban. The flight I was on was packed beyond capacity and there were people even sitting on the seats reserved for the crew and on the aisle,” he said.

Many Afghan nationals living in colonies such as Bhogal and Lajpat Nagar said they were afraid to speak about what was happening in their country and also to disclose their identity. “The Taliban rules by instilling fear and they have managed to do that. I am here as a refugee and I don’t know what will happen to me or where I will go but I know that going back to Afghanistan is not an option. The progress that the country had made in the last 20 years is all over,” said a 35-year-old who runs a mobile recharge shop in Bhogal.

Farshid Mohamaddi, who works at a grocery store in Lajpat Nagar, said thinking about the situation was like living in a nightmare. He came with his family to find employment and a better life in India but is finding it hard to find employment. “My dream is to somehow reach Canada where I will be able to give a better life to my children. Here, over the past few days when many people from Afghanistan started coming, rents which were very low due to the pandemic are also rising. Our lives are now in the hands of governments that are willing to help us as we have lost our home. The question of going back does not arise,” he said.

Several Afghans could be seen arriving from various parts of the country to the colony in Lajpat Nagar with suitcases and families in tow to find out what they could do about extending their visa to stay on in India. Saddam, who arrived from Rajasthan, said: “I am here with my entire family. We do not have permits to stay on. I have come to Delhi with the hope that we can secure some arrangements and stay on in India or go to another country that will welcome us.”


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 7:40:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/we-fear-for-our-families-back-home/article35945866.ece

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