New Delhi: Amid deepening crisis in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the war-torn nation, a large number of Afghan refugees in India vociferously protested in front of the UNHCR office here on Monday demanding release of "support letters" from the UN agency to migrate to other countries for better opportunities.
Hundreds of these demonstrators, both male and female drawn from Delhi and neighbouring cities, started gathering in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Vasant Vihar since morning.
The crowd shouted slogans like 'We want future', 'We want justice', 'No more silence' and clapped and cheered each other, as many others held banners bearing messages, like 'UN Geneva help Afghan Refugees' and 'Issue resident visas to all Afghan refugees'.
The protest was organised by Afghan Solidarity Committee (ASC) and the protestors were shouting slogans till late afternoon, with their leader saying the protest will continue for at least two-three days.
Protesters came from Lajpat Nagar -- 'Little Kabul' of Delhi, Bhogal, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad, among other places.
Ahmad Zia Ghani, head of the Committee, said there are about 21,000 Afghan refugees in India, out of whom only 7,000 have valid documents (blue paper) or cards.
"Life of Afghans in India is not very good, and there is hardly any opportunity. Why shouldn't we have the opportunity to move to a third country and seek a better future for ourselves and our children. The UNHCR should consider our appeal, issue support letters and even reopen old cases," he told PTI.
The ASC volunteers also wore a blue armband to register their protests, while women and children sang Afghan songs 'Sarzamine Mann'.
The protesters included children too, as young as two-year-old Nihanz, who came along with his family from Bhogal, and sisters Dia (12) and Diayana (10), who stood together in the crowd wrapped in the national flag of Afghanistan.
Mariam Arzo Nooyar, 19, who had moved from Kabul along with her family seven years ago, was sad and angry and said "my Afghanistan has been snatched by the Taliban".
Bhogal-resident Nooyar who wore a scarf with Afghan colours said she cried the day Kabul fell to the Islamist group.
"We can't think of going back to Afghanistan, so we have to look for better avenues, which unfortunately we are not getting in India. I want to become a doctor, but do I have documents needed to pursue higher education here," said Kayenat Yusufi, 18, who is among the volunteers.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities in the backdrop of withdrawal of the US forces that began on May 1.
On August 15, the capital city Kabul also fell to the Taliban, even as a large number of Afghans attempted in vain to flee the war-torn nation.