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Friday, September 24, 2021

‘Gun-toting Taliban forces patrolling outside building’, ‘running out of provisions’: Indians stranded in Afghanistan plead for help

"Everyone is asking one another about updates on evacuation. So far, none from the Indian side has contacted us," said one of the many Indians waiting to be evacuated from the country.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: August 18, 2021 5:10:30 pm
Another Indian, who is waiting to fly back, said those stranded in Afghanistan have been employed by the US or European firms. (Express Photo Shubhajit Roy)

“I have been staying in a room provided by my Afghan friend for four days. Yesterday night also, I saw gun-toting Taliban forces patrolling outside the building where I am staying. I am scared to move out. We are desperately waiting for help,” said one of the Indians stranded in Taliban-governed Afghanistan.

He is among the many Indians, women and children included, waiting to be evacuated from Kabul in the wake of the crisis unravelling in Afghanistan after the Taliban had taken control of the country.

The Indian, who does not want to be named due to security reasons, said, “we are living scattered in many parts of Kabul and other areas of the country. Although we have made distress calls to India, so far, nobody has contacted us. Luckily, all of us are safe and we are now comforting each other saying that things would not go out of control. Everyone is asking one another about updates on evacuation. So far, none from the Indian side has contacted us,” he said.

He said, “all of us are virtually hiding in various buildings, or hotels, fearing the Taliban. Our stock of provisions is running out. Shops still remain shut although the new government has allowed keeping the shops open. Four days back, I left my work camp without even a pair of dresses. We are just surviving for the last four days at the mercy of local benefactors,” he said.

He said the exact number of Indians stranded in Afghanistan is not known locally. “We have formed groups to keep updated about evacuation missions. Our group has 400 members. Details about more Indians stranded in Afghanistan are still trickling in,” he said.

Another Indian, who is waiting to fly back, said those stranded in Afghanistan have been employed by the US or European firms. “Many of them have been settled here for several years. Some Indians have married local Afghan women and they have families here. But, the only immediate concern is to get out of the country at the earliest. Many Indians have braced up to leave their belongings in this country and are ready to flee. They would think about returning to Afghanistan only after understanding the long-term approach of the Taliban regime. The shadow of the old Taliban regime is really haunting us. We still can’t believe that they have changed,” he said.

He said most Indians are scared to speak to the media. “We have to remain silent. We can’t believe the words of the Taliban regime that they would not hurt anyone. The mischief of a Taliban fighter is enough to seal our fate,” he said, indicating the lurking fear in the country.

The other day, the Kerala government wrote to the external affairs ministry, seeking its urgent intervention to evacuate around 41 Keralites stranded in Kabul. The state government move came in the wake of distress calls from Malayalees stranded in Afghanistan in the wake of the turmoil. The state said it was not sure of the exact number of Keralites stranded in Afghanistan.

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