In Kashmir, Afghan Man Demands Kabul Flight

Usman Hafiz Khan at Press Enclave Srinagar along with his family. KO Photos By Abid Bhat.

The sudden appearance of an Afghan man in Srinagar surprised all and sundry.

KASHMIR had a surprise visitor from Kabul on Thursday when a turbaned and moustached man walked in Srinagar’s Press Enclave.

Arriving on the spot with his four kids and a young wife, Usman Hafiz Khan demanded deportation to his homeland.

“My family has been left hanging in the middle of nowhere,” Khan said in a Pashtun-influenced Urdu.

“Government of India has left me here without any Visa and Passport. I want to travel back to Kabul.”

Despite calling his homeland’s situation a cause of concern, Khan apparently remains the only Pashtun voice in the valley demanding deportation back to his war-torn country.

“I’m a Pathan but discriminating against someone on grounds of his tribe or homeland isn’t a good thing,” Khan said. “I’m told that I am here to capture Kashmir. This is an insult to me and my tribe.”

Usman Hafiz Khan showing his UNHCR certificate.

Apart from civilians, Khan claims that he’s facing discrimination from cops as well.

“If the Indian Government knows that you’re in Kashmir, they’ll die of fear,” the Kabul native recalled the words of a cop.

“What’s this behavior? Isn’t this wrong?” he asked. “Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and MK Gandhi were close friends but today, the Indian Government is playing politics with Afghan refugees.”

On August 15, when Taliban overtook Kabul in a bloodless coup, Khan like other Afghan refugees became fearful of the full-scale offensive in his country.

But while the transition of power went smooth in Kabul, Khan is compelled to fight his case in Kashmir.

“I don’t ask the government to provide any free help,” the Afghan man said.

“I’m a Pathan, I’ve an honour. I’ll work as a labourer. I want to educate my children but the government isn’t ready to accept that.”

Despite repeated assurances from New Delhi, he said, the rehabilitation process for Afghan refugees is still not seeing the light of the day.

Usman Hafiz Khan calls himself a former Afghan army man.

“If the government fails to provide us with the legal rights, then I’ll go back to my war-torn country,” Khan said with a sense of anguish.

“I’m a former Afghan army personnel, I’ll stand face to face with the Taliban. In the end, they’re my own people but I will never accept being treated as a slave in India.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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