Seyyed Azizullah Sadat, 16, is in Kabul with his four younger siblings. His father has been in Jaipur in India for more than a year due to some legal issues. His mother passed away last year due to a kidney ailment as the family didn’t have enough money to provide her with timely treatment. His neighbours help him in several day-to-day matters.
Outlook spoke to Sadat through WhatsApp call at 10 in the night on August 17. He was at home in Kabul and narrated the current situation and stories that are floating around among the general public since the Taliban have taken over the capital city of Afghanistan. Sadat speaks in Persian only and his Indian friend who was on a conference call helped translate his story into English. Excerpts:
Q: Where are you right now?
A: I am at my home in Kabul. I am at the roof of the house and watching the city. Normally, I get a wonderful view of the city from the roof. I am trying to make a video but it's dark and the weather is cloudy so can’t capture anything.
Q: What is the current situation in Kabul?
A: It is quite scary here. There is panic all around among people as they don’t know what will happen to them. Talibani militants took over Kabul three days back and we can see armed militants on the street during the day, stopping people and asking them about their work, whereabouts, etc.
Q: Is there any risk to the lives of civilians there? Why are they in panic and scared?
A: See, the problem is militants are searching for Afghan army personnel, police forces, and government employees and they are targeting not only these people but their relatives too. Many of these people are hiding at their homes or relatives’ or friends’ places. Even the relatives don’t know how these militants are going to behave with them. There is a large population whose near and dear ones were working with the military, police, and the government. So, militants are searching homes, shops, and all other establishments.
Q: Have you heard of any incident where relatives of army, police, or government employees have been harassed and tortured?
A: Yes, there are reports that many people have been badly beaten and their valuables have been taken away. Some of them were humiliated too. Like their faces have been blackened and paraded in the city. In another incident, I have heard that militants themselves announced that they have chopped off both the arms of 15 people who were accused of stealing and running away with petty things. I have also come to know that they have fixed a salary of Rs 4,000 for everyone. Even a professor who was earning Rs 80,000 per month would fetch only Rs 4,000 because militants believe everyone should get equal pay irrespective of what they do.
Q: Have you gone out since the Taliban have taken over? What about shops and other establishments?
A: We go out only when it is necessary, otherwise we stay at home. Markets are completely closed but necessary shops like medical stores, hospitals, vegetable shops, and some grocery shops are opened. So, we go out for very important buying. Schools and colleges are closed and buses are not plying on the roads.
Q: Have you heard of any news of the killing of police or army personnel or government workers?
A: We have been hearing all sorts of things but how far they are true I can’t say. But there is fear and uncertainty around as people don’t know who will meet what fate here. So, a lot of people are trying to flee the country and settle elsewhere. Just recently, a lady spoke to my father and she broke down. She wanted to go to India. She told him that she was ready to sell one of her kidneys for arranging money for going to India but she doesn’t want to live here. You can imagine how bad life has become here.
Q: Are you in touch with all your relatives in Kabul and abroad? Have they come across any untoward incidents?
A: Mobile phones are not working at many places and I have not been able to speak to many of my relatives. But those I have been able to talk to are safe at the moment by the grace of God. I talk to my father in Jaipur but it is very risky because Talibani militants hate Indians and Western people and if they come to know that we are talking to Indian people, we might get into trouble. So many people are not even talking to their relatives. They immediately delete the details of WhatsApp call after talking to their relatives abroad.