‘I have been staying in a friend’s room for four days. I also saw gun-toting Taliban forces patrolling outside the building where I am staying yesterday night. I’m afraid to move out. We are desperately waiting for help’, one of the Indians stranded in Taliban-governed Afghanistan said. There are many Indians, including women and children, who are waiting to be evacuated from Kabul as the crisis unfolds in Afghanistan after the Taliban have taken control.
According to the Indian, who asked not to be named for security reasons, ‘we live in many parts of Kabul and elsewhere in the country. Although we have made distress calls to India, so far no one has contacted us. All of us are safe now, and we are comforting each other by saying that things are under control. Everyone is asking each other for updates on the evacuation. So far, we have not heard from the Indian side,’ he said.
As he stated, ‘we are hiding virtually everywhere, in buildings or hotels, fearing the Taliban. Provisions are running out. Although the new government has allowed stores to remain open, shops remain closed. Last week, I left my work camp with no clothes on my back. For the last four days, we have survived at the mercy of local benefactors. Locally, the exact number of Indians stranded in Afghanistan is unknown. We have formed groups to keep updated on evacuation missions. We have 400 members in our group. Details about more Indians stranded in Afghanistan are still trickling in,’ he said.
An Indian who is waiting to fly back said most of those stranded in Afghanistan were employed by US or European firms. ‘Many of them have lived here for several years. Several Indians have married Afghan women and have families here. There is only one immediate concern: getting out of the country as soon as possible. Indians have prepared to leave their belongings in this country and are ready to flee. After understanding the Taliban’s long-term approach, they would consider returning to Afghanistan. We are still haunted by the shadow of the old Taliban regime. The changes are still so unbelievable,’ he told the crowd.
He said most Indians are afraid to speak to the media. ‘We must remain silent. We cannot believe the Taliban regime’s claim that they would not hurt anyone. Our fate is sealed by the mischief of a Taliban fighter,’ said the man, hinting at the underlying fear in the country.
On Sunday, the Kerala government wrote to the ministry of external affairs requesting that 41 Keralites who had been stranded in Kabul be evacuated. In the wake of the turmoil, Malayalees stranded in Afghanistan made distress calls to the state government. It said it could not estimate the number of Keralites stranded in Afghanistan.