Published: 17th August 2021
Kindly rescue us, please: Profs among 30 Indians stuck in a Kabul University hostel for three days, after Taliban takeover
We spoke to a professor of the university, who said that the last lecture was held three days ago, after which the university was shut
Come winter or rain, Dr Mohd Asif Shah's room in Kabul's Bakhtar University hostel was always stocked up. "I always stock up essentials and at least four cans of water all the time," says this Associate Professor of Economics over a WhatsApp call. This habit has come in handy for Shah, especially now. For the past three days, along with 29 other Indians (including four of his colleagues), he has been stuck inside the hostel — scared to step out and off the university premises.
The last lecture that Shah and his colleagues delivered to their students was three days ago, after which, the university was shut indefinitely. The next day, August 15, the Taliban, the militant extremist group took over Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, overthrowing the government. Following this, President Ashraf Ghani reportedly fled the country. Since May 2021, after the US troops withdrew from the country on the heels of a treaty signed with them, the group had begun an offensive to fain control. As all these events unfolded, Shah said that a few Indians whom they knew have taken refuge in the hostel. Most of the faculty members of Bakhtar University are reportedly from India and Pakistan.
"We do not know what exactly is happening right outside the university," says Shah. "The only information that we have are of the stampede in Kabul airport and about hundreds trying to flee the country," he adds. Visuals of people crowding the airport had gone viral all over social media. In one such video, two people who had tied themselves to a US Air Force plane were seen falling off the aircraft to their gruesome end.
On August 17, Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs had tweeted the number of a special cell set up by the ministry to help Indians stuck in Afghanistan. The tweet said, "Given the Kabul situation, it is important we have accurate information about Indians there. Urge that this be provided by all concerned to the MEA Special Afghanistan Cell at +919717785379 or email MEAHelpdeskIndia@gmail.com." However, Shah said that these did not prove helpful to them. "We did not get any response from the cell or the Indian embassy. However, we are hoping that the government of India will take necessary action and help up us get back home safely. Our families back home are really stressed," says Shah. Earlier, he had tweeted, "We are four Indians teaching in one university in Afghanistan and are stuck. Nobody is coming for our help. Kindly rescue us, please [sic]."
However, soon after we spoke to Shah, the Lt Governor of Kashmir Manoj Sinha tweeted that he spoke to the Foreign Affairs MoS V Muraleedharan who had assured to bring the professors back. "Spoke to MoS Foreign Affairs, Shri V Muraleedharan Ji for an immediate evacuation of professors from Kulgam teaching at Bakhtar University in Kabul. He has assured the government is committed to bringing back every citizen safely as soon as possible."