‘Crying, praying & hiding’: An Afghan’s flight to safety from troubled land | India News – Times of India

LUCKNOW: The sun shone bright even at 8am on Monday morning and the sounds of gunshots were loud and clear.
As Abdul Ghafoor, 34, stood in front of a giant US military aircraft, heavily guarded by US marines, at the military base in Kabul airport, the sight was no different from any apocalyptic movie.
For this young man, who had been helping people return to Afghanistan from other countries since 2014, living under the Taliban regime was not safe. Fortunately, with a German network to fall back on, Abdul was evacuated from Kabul on Monday night and transported to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. After hours of hiding, crying and praying on Tuesday, Abdul finally flew to Germany for a safer future.
However, he will now have to live with the fact that he would never be able to return to Afghanistan.
“Before Sunday, all of us in Kabul were busy with our regular work. Taliban had struck a deal that they would not enter Kabul but then they started entering the capital and fanned out all over within hours. Immediately, there was chaos and confusion. People started running for kilometres, not knowing where they were going and what they would do,” Abdul told TOI from Tashkent airport on Tuesday.
Abdul is the founder and director of Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organisation and has helped over 3,000 Afghan returnees since 2014. He started this work after he was not granted asylum by Norway leading to his deportation in 2013.
“The first thing I did was to burn all the sensitive documents and identity cards I had in my office. I went into hiding immediately. Though my network of activists, colleagues and friends in Germany sent me an email informing about the possible evacuation on Sunday itself, I could not take it up that day fearing Taliban influx into the city,” he said.
Not being able to reach his home to wind up from Afghanistan forever, it was only on Tuesday morning that Abdul picked up his laptop and a small backpack of belongings to leave the city.
“I have no possessions. I wasn’t even able to withdraw money from my bank account. Safety was the priority,” he said.
Overwhelmed by the magnitude of destruction in his country, Abdul said he broke down several times since Sunday.
“When I reached the military tarmac on Tuesday morning, there were thousands of people trying to flee. Two Talibani men, in a futile attempt to disperse the crowd, opened fire in the air causing further chaos. Since it was close to the US base, US Marines retaliated and gunned down the two Talibanis in front of my eyes,” he said.
Abdul finally got a seat in the military aircraft around 1am on Wednesday.
“We waited all those hours knowing well what dangers lay on the other side of the airport. I couldn’t have gone back since the Taliban had started forcing its way into the houses of activists, journalists and the likes searching for documents and identities to target. I was anyway a target for the Taliban as I had helped returnees who had converted to other religions, infidels and atheists, a completely unacceptable and dangerous job under them,” Abdul added.
“It was truly unbelievable when I stood in front of a US aircraft, praying every second for safe evacuation from a troubled land. Many of my friends are still stuck there and seeking help. I am doing everything to guide them. Who knows when all of this will end,” he said.

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