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Monday, September 27, 2021

Helplessness at protest by Afghans in Delhi: ‘Nothing I can do from here’

Posters had slogans such as “the government of India must ensure the safety of all Afghan nationals in India”, “reject and resist all attempts to stoke Islamophobia in India using Taliban as a pretext”, and “we do not acknowledge Taliban as the ruler of Afghanistan.”

Written by Ashna Butani |
Updated: September 3, 2021 1:26:16 pm
Afghani families protest outside the UNHRC office at Vasant Vihar on Monday. (Photo: Abhinav Saha)

Zara Nabizada, who came to Delhi to pursue her Master’s three years ago, has left no stone unturned in trying to help her family back in Afghanistan. “Every day, there is something new. Noises of gunshots over the phone, cousins and neighbours dying, my brother sending me videos of the death and destruction… and there is hardly anything that I can do for them from here.”

Zara was among some Afghan students and refugees who attended the protest at Mandi House on Monday. The protest, organised by over 18 human rights groups, saw around 100 protesters. Zara’s family is back in Kabul. She said, “They keep going to the airport but there are no flights. I barely get a chance to speak to them properly.” The purpose of the protest was to stand with Afghan people “against oppressive Taliban rule”.

Sadaf Rahim (24) left Afghanistan with her family seven years ago. Yet she is pained by stories she hears on phone. She said, “I was speaking to a friend back in Afghanistan yesterday, she told me about how her pregnant sister could not be admitted to a hospital despite it being her due date… all the hospitals are shut. With the Taliban taking over, women’s rights will be completely ignored.”

Sadaf, who works in Delhi, said she has never gone back and does not want to anymore. She tries her best to consolidate information and spread awareness on social media. Speaking on the mic at the protest, she said, “Nobody chooses to be a refugee. We are being betrayed and we must do what we can to spread awareness and help them.”

span>Rukshar Rahim (23), pursuing her Master’s in International Relations in Delhi, had plans to return Kabul and work. Her family is still back there. She came to India to study.

She said, “When the Taliban came to power in the 1990s, my mother had to give up her studies.” She added that she had studied IR so that she could work towards helping those in her country but she doubts if she can go back.

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Nargis Nazari (22), who came here with family in 2017, said she speaks to her relatives over the phone. “They cannot sleep at night because of the noises. They are trying to leave but passport offices are shut.”

Posters had slogans such as “the government of India must ensure the safety of all Afghan nationals in India”, “reject and resist all attempts to stoke Islamophobia in India using Taliban as a pretext”, and “we do not acknowledge Taliban as the ruler of Afghanistan.”

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of AIPWA , one of the organisers, said, “For the last week, many of us from democratic rights groups have been feeling disturbed. We organised this to show solidarity. Like many of the Afghan protesters said, this is not the will of the people of Afghanistan and they should have a right to choose and be guaranteed equal rights.”

Annie Raja, CPI leader and general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, said the protest had two purposes: “To express solidarity, and call upon international organisations, particularly the UN, to take initiative to ensure peace in Afghanistan.”

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