Many Nepalese held hostage in Kabul

KABUL: A number of out-of-job Nepalese citizens, who found their way to Kabul in quest of employment, are being held hostage for their inability to clear house rent and discharge other financial obligations.

Hundreds of people arrived here from the kingdom two years back in an effort to find greener pastures in the Afghan capital and other parts of the conflict-torn country. Up to 500 Nepalese including women are presently living in 18 rented houses in Kabul, according to one of the aliens.

Gopal revealed his compatriots had been receiving money from different source in Nepal to meet their requirements such as house rental, meals and day-to-day expenses. The man is living in a rented house in the Taimani neighbourhood of the capital.

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As his countrymen had been defaulting on paying house owners and shopkeepers their dues, Gopal claimed, a number of them had been abducted by quarter proprietors. One of the houses where the hostages are being held is located in the Third Street of the Qala Fathullah locality.

The Nepalese were made captives for failing to pay rental for three months at a stretch, argued the house owner, who did not want to be named. “We have no feud with them, whatsoever; they will be freed the moment they clear our arrears.”

Other abductees including women are reportedly being corralled inside a guest house in the Flower Street of Shahr-i-Naw, according to Gopal.

Most of the aliens in trouble do not have valid travel documents. After three months of stay in Afghanistan, they gave Nepalese human traffickers and their Afghan abettors their passports for renewal. The documents were never returned.

One member of the unlawful immigrant families, Chanssa Singh Bohara, complained: “We cant move out of home. If we do, police will surely clap us into prison on the charge of terrorism.” Several of the Nepalese without passports have already been jailed on the same charge.

“I have been missing my family back home and want to return. But I cant go back to my motherland because I have no money, no travel papers,” observed Bohara, whose country does not have an embassy in Kabul. As a result, he will have to go to Nepals embassy in Pakistan. And that journey too is problematic in the absence of a passport.

In Kabul, the interior Ministry expressed ignorance about the sizeable presence of the Nepalese nationals and their plight. Ministry spokesman Zmaray Bashary said he had no information in this regard. However, he promised the ministry – if approached – would try to resolve the problem at the earliest.

Alishah Paktiawal, crimes branch chief at the Kabul police headquarters, remarked the Nepalese should have lodged a complaint with police, who would have investigated the matter. But the foreigners made clear they did need government help, and that they were not linked to any crime.

Min Bahadus Thapa, another man from the impoverished kingdom, said he had deposited his house documents with a Nepali bank to qualify for receiving a loan. “Human traffickers convinced me into coming here by assuring that I would be offered a gainful job on reaching Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, a journalist from the small Asian country is in Kabul to file a detailed report on the predicament of his fellow citizens. Around 10,000 Nepalese people, most of them legally working for private security firms, were currently in Afghanistan, Bhajraj Bhat estimated.