By Praveen Dwivedi
New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Gurbachan Singh (55) was a relieved man after he welcomed his three sons at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here. They were among the 78 Afghan- Indians who were evacuated from Kabul to Tajikistan on Monday and to Delhi on Tuesday afternoon.
Gurbachan said he spent over 50 years in Afghanistan where he was looking after two-three shops that were set up by his grandfather and then his father. He left Afghanistan after a suicide bomb incident at Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul on March 25 last year and since then he has been living in Delhi’s Tilak Nagar area.
Like many others who received their relatives or family members who evacuated from Afghanistan, he was eager to see his three sons along with their wives and children. At the same time he was worried that he had lost the shops established by his grandfather over a hundred years ago in Kabul.
“Last year when I left Afghanistan, I was hopeful to some extent that my sons are here and they will carry forward our traditional business in Kabul, but the current situation is completely horrible. I have a lot of good and bad memories of Kabul. The situation in Kabul was always fearful as militants would attack time and again, but not as bad as today’s situation,” Gurbachan said.
Whenever there was any problem faced by Indians or Afghan-Indians, the Indian Embassy had always stood by in support, Gurbachan told IANS.
Chhabul Singh, another Afghan citizen who returned to India last year, said that after the bomb blast at the Gurdwara last year the situation for the people from the Sikh and Hindu communities was not as favorable as it used to be. There was fear among the Sikhs and Hindus and that is why thousands of people left Afghanistan and shifted to other countries including India.
“My forefathers had established a shop in the main market in Kabul around 150 years ago and I too had decided to spend my life there, but all has been ruined now. We are relieved that we could leave Afghanistan,” Singh said.
On Tuesday, as many as 78 people, including 25 Indian nationals arrived in New Delhi from Tajikistan’s Dushanbe on a special Air India flight. They were flown out of Taliban-controlled Kabul to Dushanbe in an aircraft of the Indian Air Force a day earlier.
Himmat Singh, an Indian national, who was among those 78 people brought to the IGI airport on Tuesday, said that around 170-180 Indian nationals are still stranded at Kabul airport.
“On Monday, we were taken to Tajikistan from Kabul airport and then from Tajikistan to India. We are happy that the Indian government took immediate action and started the evacuation. The last few weeks were really bad for all of us but at the end we were allowed to board a flight.”
He said there had been daily news of fighting between Afghan soldiers and Taliban militants but the situation in Kabul was different in comparison to other provinces. “However, our hopes were shattered on August 15 night when there was firing all around in Kabul and leaders including former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled from Afghanistan. We cannot forget the kind of situation we or the people in Afghanistan have faced,” Himmat Singh added.
By Praveen Dwivedi