Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: The complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has taken the Afghan students in India by surprise. The fast-changing scenario back home has shattered their hopes, left them trembling as they stare at the uncertain fate of their families.

Talking to The New Indian Express, 30-year-old Abdul Monir Kakar, a PG student of political science in Panjab University, who is in constant touch with his parents back in Kabul, says, “We are looking at an uncertain future. We are worried about our families, country’s future, sovereignty as there are different dimensions to this conflict. We know how the Taliban behaves and treats people. I speak to my family once every hour. They asked me not to go back to Kabul.”

Zahid Aria (29), a Ph.D. student in defence studies at Panjab University, has been living in India for the last nine years. Aria, who hails from Panjshir province, said: “I have been in constant touch with my family. My parents, younger brothers, and sisters are in a panic as there is anarchy. We know what the Taliban did when they came to power. This time too people fear that the same will happen as they have taken complete control. I cannot go back, the family cannot be moved out from there as the embassies of other countries are closed and air service stopped.”

ALSO READ | Afghan women’s rights in firing line as Taliban return to power

“There are around 15,000 Afghan students in India out of these 7,500 are on scholarship and others are self-financed. There are between 150 to 200 students in Chandigarh, Patiala, and Haryana. Most of the Afghan students are in Pune and Bengaluru as per the Afghanistan embassy in Delhi,” he says.

Wazhmia Shekib, a student of MA political science at Lovely Professional University near Jalandhar, fears that something bad may happen to her mother and young brothers. “My mother is an activist. she runs an NGO and does a lot of work for women empowerment for the last 20 years. That is all going to stop as Tabilban does not care about human rights. I really have a bad feeling. I feel helpless as neither I can’t go back there nor can I do anything,” she says.

Abdul Hadi Sharifi, who is doing a Ph.D. in management from Punjabi University at Patiala since 2019 and belongs to Panjshir province says, “Now I am really concerned about my future as not only Taliban has captured our country but also captured my future, dreams, and ambition. I had many plans. Now I do not know what to do. I have no country. I am in touch with my parents, brothers, and sisters. They are also scared. My brother is in the Afghan National Army and my father was a Mujahid from 1996 to 2001. Everyone knows Taliban takes revenge and nobody can predict what would happen to them,” he says.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association (JKSA) set up a toll-free helpline number for Kashmiri students stuck in Afghanistan to facilitate their safe return home. The helpline number (1800 891 9650) is also open for people from other Indian states and Afghan students in India. National Spokesperson of Association Nasir Khuehami said that there are around 25 students from Jammu and Kashmir who dialed the toll-free number to seek help.