Kabul’s rapid fall was powerfully illustrated on August 16, as crowds in Afghanistan made a desperate attempt to flee the country. Heartbreaking, spine-chilling videos played out on screens across the globe — hundreds of people running, hopelessly scrambling up a ladder to board a parked plane, and running alongside an American Military aircraft that was about to take off.
Clinging onto the aircraft’s wheels, at least two people spiralled down from the sky, losing their lives. Gunshots could be heard in the background as hundreds of people tried to flee the country.
However, one Hindu priest in Afghanistan has refused to flee even as he was offered help. Rajesh Kumar, a priest at Rattan Nath Temple in Kabul, declined to leave the ancestral temple which his elders had served.
“I will not abandon it (the temple). If Taliban kills me, I (will) consider it my Seva,” Rajesh Kumar said.
Twitter user @BhardwajSpeaks shared his story.
“Some Hindus have urged me to leave Kabul & offered to arrange for my travel and stay,” Kumar said.
Amid clashes with the Taliban and escalating tensions in Afghanistan, India evacuated its embassy, including the Indian ambassador, on Tuesday, August 17. A special Indian Air Force aircraft landed in Jamnagar with 130 diplomats and around 20 Indians stranded in Afghanistan earlier in the day.
This announcement comes two days after the Taliban captured Kabul, and in turn, entire Afghanistan.
The last time India evacuated its mission in Kabul was years back when the Taliban came to power.
Another C-17 aircraft had evacuated around 40 people on Monday, August 16, including some Indian embassy staff from Kabul.
Meanwhile, India introduced a new category of e-visa for Afghan nationals. This visa would fast-track the Afghans’ entry into India. These visas will be granted after security clearance and valid only for six months, sources confirmed.
According to sources, the visa will allow Afghan nationals fleeing Afghanistan to stay in India for six months; however, there is still no clarity on what would happen after the expiry of the validity period. India does not have a refugee policy in place. The country only shelters foreigners facing persecution in their countries on a case-to-case basis.