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After Hindus and Sikhs, the last Jew leaves Afghanistan after the Taliban took over

Zebulon Simentov, the last man from the Jewish community in Afghanistan, was evacuated by Moti Kahana, who runs a US-based private security firm.

After the Taliban took over, Afghanistan saw a mass exodus of minorities communities like Hindus and Sikhs. Now, according to a report, the last Jew of Afghanistan has also left fearing violence by the Islamic regime of the Taliban, which is imposing strict Shariah in the country. Reportedly, his evacuation was organised by an Israeli American man.

Zebulon Simentov, the last man from the Jewish community in Afghanistan, was evacuated by Moti Kahana, who runs a US-based private security firm. 10 days before his departure, the security firm had approached him and asked him to leave Afghanistan fearing violence not only by the Taliban but also by ISIS-K. Simentov had refused to leave at that time, just as he had refused to leave for decades, even during the previous Taliban regime.

According to reports, he is not living in a ‘neighbouring country’ and eventually, wants to go join his family in New York. While leaving Afghanistan, he had asked the security agency if his friends can also accompany him in fleeing the Taliban regime, and thus, he began his journey joined by 22 others.

Over the years, according to the report, all of his relatives left Afghanistan, including his wife and two children, leaving him behind. He had, all these years, kept the legacy of the Jewish community alive. He used to mark the Jewish new year by praying in the last synagogue in Kabul.

“I have resisted. I have made the religion of Moses proud here,” he told AFP during an interview earlier this year.

Hindus and Sikhs fled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan

On August 15, 2021, the Taliban terrorists walked into Kabul, facing no resistance from the Afghan armed forces and declaring themselves as Afghanistan’s rulers. Panic and fear had swept across the country after the fall of Kabul, following which a multitude of city residents flocked to the airport, in a desperate attempt to fly out of the country. 

With India anticipating a humanitarian crisis emerging in Afghanistan, it had already laid the groundwork for initiating a swift evacuation campaign. Indians were dogged by primarily two concerns. Firstly, it didn’t share a contiguous border with Afghanistan, which meant that the evacuation had to be carried out at a broader level with an all-embracing approach. Secondly, India had no security footprint in Afghanistan.

“Our overriding concern was the security of our officials on the ground. So we prioritised it in our plan to exfiltrate them from Afghanistan should the Taliban gets hold of the country,” TOI quoted a senior official as saying, who wished to remain anonymous because of being unauthorised to speak on the issue.

During a press briefing on the 27th of August, the Indian government informed that so far, they have evacuated 550 people from Afghanistan in 6 flights. Out of the 550 people, 260 were Indians.

“We have evacuated over 550 people in 6 separate flights, either from Kabul or Dushanbe. Of these, over 260 were Indians. GoI also facilitated evacuation of Indian nationals through other agencies. We were in touch with various countries, like [the] US, Tajikistan,” said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs (MEA), news agency ANI reported.

Further, the ministry said that the “vast majority” of Indians who wanted to return from Afghanistan have been evacuated out of the country. However, Bagchi said that he did not have the exact count of people who wanted to remain in the country. “Our overall assessment is that the vast majority of Indians who wish to return have been evacuated. Some more are likely to be in Afghanistan. I do not have the exact number for that,” he said.

 

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