'Felt like won't be returning home': UP man recalls tense moments before evacuation from Kabul airport

By PTI

BALLIA: Returning from Afghanistan, a man from Bansdih area here thanked the Centre for his safe return and said the memories of Kabul still haunt him.

Rajesh Pandey, a resident of Chitrauli locality of Janpur Mudiyari Gram Panchayat of Bansdih Kotwali area of the district, returned to India from Afghanistan on August 23 but still has fear writ large on his face.

Talking to reporters, Pandey said he had given up hope of returning home alive after seeing the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

“Many times it felt like I would not be able to return home. I am with my family today due to the efforts of the government,” said Pandey, who had gone to Kabul on February 22 earlier in the year to work in a factory located eight kilometres from the Kabul airport.

“After the capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban, there was a state of anarchy. It took 10 hours to cover a distance of eight kilometres to reach the airport,” he said, adding that the whole atmosphere was scary with bombings and firing taking place all around them.

On August 21, the group of Indians that he was travelling with were only a hundred metres away from the airport when the Taliban abducted around 150 of them to a secluded place, he said.

“Sitting in one place, everyone’s passports were checked. At that time, it seemed that I would not be able to return home alive. It was about five hours later that all of us were released at the Kabul airport and we heaved a sigh of relief,” Pandey said.

It is due to the grace of God and the efforts of the government that I have reached the country safely, he added.