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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Kabul echo in a Lajpat Nagar neighbourhood: ‘5 days, no news of family’

Worry among Afghan residents who came to India as refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on a medical visa, or as students

Written by Ektaa Malik | New Delhi |
Updated: August 17, 2021 8:07:39 am
Kabul echo in a Lajpat Nagar neighbourhood: ‘5 days, no news of family’Taliban fighters take control of the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Sunday. (AP photo)

The usually crowded and bustling lanes of the Afghan quarter in Lajpat Nagar wore a deserted look Monday – the previous night, the locality had gone to sleep with news of Kabul falling into the hands of the Taliban. People sat glued to their phones and TVs, desperate for any news from home.

“It’s been five days. I have had no news of my family. None. When I last spoke to them, they were planning to go to another province. Now, I don’t even know if they are alive or dead,” said an Afghan refugee who runs a grocery store in Lajpat Nagar and did not wish to be named.

“I know I should be worried about my own official status, but I can’t even think of that. I came to India five years ago, and I was hoping to slowly bring the rest of my family here as well for a better life. Now I am just praying that they are alive,” he said.

Over the past few weeks, many of them had been trying hard to get their families out.

Said a young Afghan woman, who works in a travel agency in Lajpat Nagar, “Earlier we would get about 20 calls a month for a Delhi-Kabul ticket. This week alone, we got about 100. Even the flight prices have shot up to almost 400 USD. Everyone is worried, especially those who have family back in Afghanistan. Now with flights suspended between the two nations, everything is in a limbo.”

Many Afghan residents came to India either as refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on a medical visa, or as students.

Mohammed Naseem, who runs a grocery mart, said: “I don’t know what will happen. Half my family is here, the other half back home. We haven’t had any contact with them for the last four days. We have seen a lot of turmoil in Afghanistan… and we, who are here, don’t want to pay the price for what’s happening back home.”

Khatera Munsifzada (30), a former radio-producer, said: “… The citizens of Afghanistan have suffered a lot, and not just at the hands of the Taliban. The Ghani government was no better. It’s the people who pay the price. I came here alone in 2011, and I couldn’t go back. Ab toh bilkul pata nahin.”

“We will have to wait and watch. Jitna aapko pata hai, humein bhi aaj utna hi pata hai,” said Munsifzada, who also helps out Afghan nationals with their official paperwork.

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