Lajpat Nagar, A place of hope & solidarity, which has its significant since partition. It became a home for Sikhs & Hindus refugee who migrated from Pakistan. Yet in recent years, the area has increasingly become a magnet for Afghan refugees looking to start over.
Sajjad, 34, recalls the situation of chaos & deaths due to Taliban hostilities in Afghanistan. It has forced him & many others to migrate from their motherland. Although he is living happily with her wife & his only 8-year daughter Fatima. But the pain of separation from his other family members & the city is really hard to forget. He has a roti shop, which, basically make afghani roties, which is a staple food of afghans.
Lajpat Nagar, nowadays, which is also called “mini Kabul”. here one can feel the ambience of afghani culture. The market has shops, restaurants & street food stalls run by afghani people.
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The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and its development partner, ACCESS, has supported their initiative, training them in enterprise development and making them self-reliant through their culinary skills. Afghani People in their ethnic attire roaming around the market wonder the newcomers as they are outside of India. The footfalls of tourists & locals are increasing daily to feel the new ambience & food culture of afghans.
Although their language is Pashto & Dari, some of them try to speak Hindi & understand it also. While interviewing they said that they get a lot of cooperation from locals but there are many more challenges they face. As they are asylum seekers or refugees, so they don’t have a citizenship card, this limit themselves to Merely as a worker.
Many afghani youths are working in chemist shops, food outlets, and some of them have started their restaurant, which is among the popular spot of the market. Some of the afghans come to India for better, effective and cost-efficient treatment. Which also has created a market for their need nearby their rented houses in Lajpat Nagar.
Afghans feel India is their second Home. But some of them also say if the condition improves there, they wish to return to their motherland. While living in India, they try to celebrate their festivals like Eid, Muharram, with their neighbours like Sikhs, Hindus. Apart from Lajpat Nagar, there are many other pockets in Delhi like Khirki extension, Saket, Vasant Kunj where the afghani community lives.
There are also a few schools for afghanis children run by Afghan govt. & UNHCR in BHOGAL near Lajpat Nagar area. Some Afghans say that from their community some people are indulged in flesh trade racket. Which infamous their community and creates bad image among Indians.
As far as India’s culture is concerned, Afghans like plurality, festivals celebration, food and many more things. They try to relate themselves as one by saying during Sultanate & Mughals rule, afghan was the part of India. They love the city & country but they are sceptical about the role of Indian government related to their citizenship process.