Moved to Azerbaijan in 1999, This Is the First Time I’ve Felt Fear

An NRI shares her response to the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict.

Published
My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

I am an Indian citizen who has been raised in Azerbaijan. My family and I moved to Baku in 1999. Although I have spent 22 years of my life in this country, I have never forgotten my roots or lost my attachment towards my own country.

Since 27 September, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at war. As I have paid close attention to a few Indian news channels, many of them have focused only on the attacks occurring within the war zone which is Nagorno Karabakh. They often fail to consider that there are nearly 1,300 Indian citizens currently residing in Azerbaijan. Here’s how we feel.

Every day, I, as any, wake up fearing that our city might be hit next. This is the first time in the 21 years of living in this country that I have experienced actual fear.

The anxiousness that we feel is further amplified by fearmongering and rumours.

Something that has been flooding our devices recently is news reports of potential terror attacks. So, people have been asked to be much more careful. We have been given instructions not to go to crowded places.

As I am someone who comes from a family that runs a restaurant, an 8 pm curfew means that venues shutter at dinner time. So, there are numerous financial effects of war that have been exacerbated by already existing economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

  • My family’s restaurant in Baku.
  • My family’s restaurant in Baku.

A second concern is the internet speed which many of us are suffering with, as people seek therapy online. Since the war began, I have been unable to do that. So not only have I been facing severe anxiety that my city, my friends and family might be in danger, I am also not being able to cope with it by talking about it. As a YouTuber, slow speed also affects my daily work.

Distrust Towards Indians

Indians have always been compared to Azerbaijanis and vice versa due to the similarities in cultures. Unfortunately, there is shift in tone this past year. There are several reasons behind this, but the misinformed voices on social media are the ones I would like to highlight.

A lot of Pakistani nationalists have been trying to make the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between these two post-Soviet countries into one like the India-Pakistan conflict. This has been extremely detrimental to us NRIs, as our Azerbaijani friends and acquaintances have started to question us.

  • I moved to Baku in 1999.
  • I moved to Baku in 1999.

Similarly, Indian nationalists, who are sitting back home and haven’t been to either country, think it would be right to comment or post opinions about this conflict within the caucuses that have nothing to do with them.

I was subject to vicious trolling on Twitter recently when I shared my views on Azerbaijan and trolls attacked me for supporting a ‘Muslim-majority’ country. To all such people, I would like to say that Azerbaijan has accepted us as Indians, may we be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Christian or any other.

Hence, the promotion of such propaganda has resulted in a form of distrust from Azerbaijanis towards Indians that have never been experienced before. This does not take away from our appreciation for this country. However, I feel like the Indian media should take a degree of responsibility when dealing with such cases considering the Indian diaspora as well. We are all united and we all hope for a better and safer future.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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