The priest who refused to flee Kabul- Pandit Rajesh Kumar
As the news spread of the Taliban overthrowing the Afghan national government, words of solidarity from around the world spread like wildfire. Social media is full of sympathetic tweets and opinioned views on the current circumstances yet the major question remains- what future does Afghanistan hold? Or what would now happen to Hindu and Sikh minorities living in the country? Amid all these tensions, a voice came from the capital city of Kabul refusing to flee the nation. The man was Pandit Rajesh, who despite the Taliban’s overtakes refuses to leave the country. Pandit Rajesh Kumar, a priest in the Hindu temple of Kabul, says he would not flee.
Who is Pandit Rajesh Kumar?
While the people of Afghanistan are desperately trying to flee the country, Pandit Rajesh Kumar rather chose to stay. He is the last priest of Rattan Nath temple in Kabul and had quoted that his family since ages have been serving the temple and therefore he shall perform his duty despite the threat of life.
“Some Hindus have urged me to leave Kabul & offered to arrange for my travel and stay. But my ancestors served this Mandir for hundreds of years. I will not abandon it. If Taliban kills me, I consider it my Seva.” He said.
He was born and raised in 1961 in Herat, Afghanistan, a city that was once home to thousands of Jews who couldn’t survive the Islamist onslaught. In 1992, when Afghanistan was last dealing with the Taliban’s interference, he fled to the neighboring country Tajikistan where he met his wife. Though he returned a few years later, his wife and children stayed in Israel. Now, when the Taliban is once again in power, Pandit Rajesh Kumar has chosen not to flee no matter what the future holds for him.
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorates as the Taliban overthrows the national government. It took just a week for the army to surrender and leave the fate of 5 million people unattended. Thousands of people flock to the Kabul airport hoping to flee the country. Some so desperate that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. Around 7 people are reportedly killed in the airport chaos. Heart-wrenching videos are circulating all-around social media depicting the ground reality at the state.
On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, abandoning the presidential palace to Taliban fighters who took over the capital of Afghanistan and declared to hold the crown. Since then chaos has broken out in public, innocent people fearing their lives desperately tries to flee. The Taliban in Afghanistan is widely recognized as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar now declared as Afghan President, a radical Islamic group that forcefully implements Islamic Sharia Law. Their wide popularity begins with their harsh enforcement of Sharia law in the country from 1996 to 2001. In 2021, the Taliban has once again successfully and swiftly captured the country.
While US President Joe Biden stands firm to his decision of no interference, India on the other hand has initiated new emergency Visa services to help people leave the country. They are planning to evacuate Afghanistan-based Hindu and Sikh minorities to safely arrive in India.
“MHA reviews visa provisions in view of the current situation in Afghanistan. A new category of electronic visa called “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” introduced to fast-track visa applications for entry into India.” spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs.
With the Taliban in power, the threat to Afghan women has risen once again. The country that struggled to get back on its feet in the 20 years has once again fallen into the shackles of slavery. We hope that the world would support the public of Afghanistan and help them become free because freedom is everyone’s right.