While many Afghans waited to leave the Taliban-ruled country, a total of 106 Afghans stranded in India since August 15 returned home on a special flight over the weekend — the first Afghan citizens in India to return to their freedom of choice.
These Afghan nationals were mainly those who came to India for business or medical treatment before August 15 – when Kabul fell to the Taliban – and were eager to go home.
“These Afghans are in a very difficult situation because their finances have been squandered and they do not even have enough money for food and shelter,” the ambassador to Afghanistan told The Sunday Express. Many of them were worried about their family members who were in Afghanistan, and had difficulty returning home after the Taliban seized power.
“They are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said the Afghan diplomat, adding that India and the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan have a dire financial and food crisis.
For the past few weeks they have been approaching the Afghan embassy and wanting to go home, so the embassy approached India to allow them to board the flight again. But it will take time.
The Afghan embassy approached the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a visa, so they returned via Pakistan’s ground route. Finally, the Afghan embassy sought the Iranian embassy to facilitate their flight on the Iranian airline Mahan Air.
“The Afghans had to pay for the flight, but they went back via Tehran,” the diplomat said. “It is estimated that about 1,000 people in India want to return to Afghanistan. We are trying to facilitate as much as possible.”
Hundreds of Afghans who came to India for various reasons are waiting to return. “We expect more Afghans stranded to return in the coming weeks,” he said.
A month after the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) wrote a letter to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) under the new Taliban regime, its airlines, Cum Air and Haryana, have asked Afghanistan Airlines to resume flights to and from Delhi. The Government of India has not yet taken up the matter.