KOLKATA: Judith D’Souza was all set to return home from Kabul on next Wednesday after a gap of 16 months. But on the wee hours of Friday her family member received the sad news from the Indian Embassy in Kabul – around 10.30 pm unknown gunmen abducted Judith along with her driver and personal security.
According to reports from the Indian Embassy in Kabul, around 10 pm Thursday Judith set out from the embassy office in the Malalaiwat locality in central Kabul and was heading towards her office accommodation in the Taimani region. En route gunmen stopped the car in the vicinity of Qala –e-Fatullah area and kidnapped Judith with her personal security and driver. All three were kidnapped on the office car they were travelling. Till Friday evening no militant agencies accepted responsibility in this incident.
“We received a call at around 1.30 am from the Embassy officials in Kabul. We were told that three persons have been abducted, my daughter, the driver and the security guard. Thereafter there has been no news on her. We are all very tense and anxious. We just want her to return safely home,” said Denzel D’souza, Judith’s father talking to HT at their home on CIT Road in Kolkata.
Shocked and traumatized family members pray for her safe return and are keeping a close contact with the central and state government for her safe release.
“Minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj called and said that Judith is not only my daughter, but she is also a daughter of this nation. She promised that the government would extend all possible helps to find out my daughter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Afghan president recently and both countries share good relations. The government should take up the issue seriously and bring back my daughter safe,” said Agnes, Judith’s elder sister sitting at their Entally CIT Road home.
Later in the day Derek O Brien, Rajya Sabha MP from Trinamool Congress called up the family and assured all help possible.
“We just spoke two days back over phone with her two days back. She never mentioned any tension there nor she was scared of anything. Initially we were reluctant, but she went there for work. Atleast three to four times in a week she would call us up. She is a brave girl and I am waiting for her return,” said Agnes.
Judith is the second among two sisters and one brother. She is a student of Loreto School and completed her graduation in English from St. Xavier’s College. Judith then moved to University of Mumbai to complete her post graduate in Social Work. In Afghanistan she was working with an NGO –Aga Khan Foundation – where she was the technical advisor for the department of gender equality. Her elder brother works in Bangalore, her mother is a housewife and her father is a retired private firm employee.
This is for the second time that an Indian woman encountered the wrath of suspected militants in Afghanistan.
Late on September 4, 2013 49-year old Sushmita Banerjee was gunned down by suspected Talibans outside her in-laws’ house in Paktika Province in Afghanistan.
Mukherjee – who hails from Kolkata – fell in love with an Afghan money lender in Kolkata and eventually married her. Bollywood film Escape from Taliban is based on her memoir - Kabuliwalah-ar Bangali bou (A Kabuliwalah’s Bengali wife). It is believed that she also became a victim of the Talibans once she turned out to be an activist on gender equality in Afghanistan.
Acting on directives from the ministry of external affairs, the Indian embassy in Kabul is keeping a close contact with the senior Afghan authorities and Afghan intelligence agencies. The Indian embassy in Kabul had earlier issued a security alert to the Indian citizens residing in Afghanistan and travelling to the country, warning regarding the persistent volatile situation of the country.
“All Indians residing in Afghanistan and Indian travellers to Afghanistan are advised that the security situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile. Terrorist attacks have taken place in many parts of the country against a variety of targets including foreigners and are expected to continue. There is also the risk of kidnapping and hostage taking throughout the Afghanistan,” the statement mentions.